The ideal framework for transforming education contains equal parts based on a student- centered ecosystem. Motivation, adaptability, and multiculturalism are the key components that need to be integrated into the ecosystem.
A student-centered ecosystem flips the roles of the student and instructor, making the instructor a guide for the students as they control their learning. This is accomplished through problem-solving, collaboration, and applying knowledge to real-world situations, preparing students to be aware of and understand the differences between cultures to contribute to society. Social interdependence theory and active learning can be part of this ecosystem (Reiser & Dempsey, 2018).
The social interdependence theory's basic principle is that the group is interdependent and working together towards a common goal or goals. This reliance on all group members creates a group dynamic where roles and responsibilities are well-defined, and there is individual accountability.
Active learning classrooms facilitate constructivist learning activities. Active learning focuses on real-world scenarios for students to apply their knowledge, skills, and experience.Space configuration promotes collaboration and cooperation between students. These configurations include flipped classrooms, and maker spaces, among others (Diep, 2021).
Multiculturalism must be integrated into a student-centered ecosystem. Faculty often bring their cultural bias into their instruction without realizing it. Personal bias can be addressed by having faculty look at their own culture and its impact on their teaching. Learning activities need to be inclusive of all students. Faculty should look at their language, social norms, and how they can be culturally responsive and adaptive to their students' challenges. Faculty should also consider the type of delivery they use in their instruction to ensure there is no cultural bias. This can be challenging when the diversity in a class is limited. These students may be hesitant to join in class discussions or speak freely. Many students at my institution enjoyed the anonymity of online learning during the pandemic and felt empowered to contribute to class discussions.
Motivation plays a distinct role in higher education. What motivates us is determined by what we feel and what we believe. As educators, we need to consider our students' cognitive domain and their feelings, emotions, and attitudes that motivate them in our curriculum design.
The self-determination theory established in the 1970s by Edward Deci describes two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic (Deci et al., 2021). Intrinsic motivation comes from the inherent interest in and value of an activity. Extrinsic motivation is based on external consequences like rewards or punishments. Humans have three goals: to be good at things, develop bonds with others, and make our own choices. Intrinsic motivation works best in an environment that supports all three goals. As educators, we should create activities based on those three goals instead of rewards or punishment to motivate students.
Instructors also need to consider students' personality traits in their course design. Research has shown that personality traits can influence how a student is motivated (Komarraju et al., 2009). Achievement motivation occurs when students are motivated by the opportunity to set and accomplish goals. These students are driven by their desire to be challenged and the satisfaction they get from meeting that challenge. Some students want to be mentally challenged and are motivated by activities that challenge their knowledge. Self-efficacy also plays a role in motivation. Students who believe in their ability to complete a task will be inspired by that belief.
Educational design must be adaptive, or it becomes stagnant. The curriculum needs to be continually reviewed and assessed to determine if changes need to be made. Learning continues throughout our lifetime as the world changes, and the curriculum must be adaptable to be relevant. This adaptability needs to include the different ways that students learn.
Curriculum design should consist of visual, auditory, mobility, and cognitive involvement.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2012). Self-determination theory. In P. A. M. Van Lange, A. W. Kruglanski, & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of theories of social psychology (pp. 416–436). Sage Publications Ltd. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446249215.n21
Fadel, C., Bialik, M., & Trilling, B. (2015). Four-dimensional education: The competencies learners need to succeed. The Center for Curriculum Redesign.
Komarraju, M., Karau, S. J., & Schmeck, R. R. (2009). Role of the Big Five personality traits in predicting college students' academic motivation and achievement. Learning and Individual Differences, 19(1), 47–52. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.LINDIF.2008.07.001