A Paradigm Shift Towards Knowledge in Higher Education? Student Learning in an Open Science Basic Research Project Involving Private Companies

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 09:20
Oral Presentation
Sanne HAASE, Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy, Denmark
Marie Louise CONRADSEN, Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center, Aarhus University, Denmark
Knowledge should be freely available to the public, and rather than restraining knowledge development by means of IPR clauses, basic research should be shared. A paradigm shift towards openness in basic research is currently being pushed for in an Open Science initiative from Denmarks’s second-largest comprehensive university.

The OS initiative puts aside the pursuit of patenting, and brings private companies and university researchers together in order to collaborate on basic research projects that are undertaken by students and come to form part of their learning. Since project initiation in January 2017, 19 students have been involved in the OS project along with a range of PhD students and postdocs.

Attempts are made to affect student culture and learning. A course is provided in order to qualify the interdisciplinary problem-solving practices of the students and lay the foundation for new types of knowledge-creation and learning.

Based on a comprehensive data collection harvested in a mixed-methods evaluation design, the paper presents results from an investigation focusing on how student knowledge acquisition, learning outcome and motivation are affected by this new type of HE structural framework that transgresses ordinary boundaries of discipline, organizational affiliation and methods. Mechanisms of exclusion via student self-selection are also investigated.

Preliminary findings suggest that student involvement in the OS project has a positive effect on: student motivation, the development of a sense of collectivity, and inclination to approach specific companies upon completed education in the boundary-crossing from student to employee.

By examining the opportunities and challenges of this open approach for organizing research and higher education, the paper contributes to the understanding of HE under increased demands of HEIs for accountability, strategic capacity and responsiveness in accordance with the current challenges of the predominant narrative of the university as a main driver in the global, competitive knowledge economy.