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Developing Students’ Language Competence and Essential 21st Century Skills for Future Employability: The Case of Latvia and Lithuania

Abstract

Introduction: Nowadays, language and intercultural competences have become core employability skills in many fields, supporting the development of other skills which emphasizes the necessity for specific pedagogic approaches in developing online learning materials and courses that would develop learners’ language competence and other relevant 21st century skills for future employability. The current comparative summative evaluation research conducted in two higher education institutions in Latvia and Lithuania analyses students’ feedback, elicited from 200 students, on the efficiency of the methods and methodologies applied in the course development and their suitability to develop the above-mentioned skills and competences.

Methods: The research implies a mixed-model design comprising a students’ questionnaire (a quantitative tool) and students’ essays (a qualitative tool). Quantitative data analysis was done applying descriptive and inferential statistics tests by IBM SPSS 22 software, qualitative data analysis – applying discourse analysis.

Results: The findings indicate that students highly evaluate the learning platform and the courses created. They find them as useful, visually appealing, interesting, interactive, well-structured, and easy to understand. Students acknowledge that they have developed their knowledge of professional lexis, reading skills, grammar and gained useful knowledge in their field. Significant differences were found concerning students’ group, specialization and the course completed – local students vs. international students as to the evaluation of the learning platform, students of IT field vs. business fields, Latvian students vs. Lithuanian students as to the intercultural B2/C1 English course completed. The research results strengthen the cognitions derived from theory on significant issues to be observed when creating blended-learning courses.

Discussion: The course designed is an alternative way of learning and may be useful for anyone who wishes to update their language and intercultural competence either through a formal or non-formal education course or on a lifelong learning basis.

Limitations: The research period covered one semester only. Although the study materials for 16 languages have been created, the current paper analyses only the results obtained in piloting English and Spanish courses, with the predominance of learners opting for English courses.

Conclusions: The research results show that the methods and methodologies applied in the given interactive blended-learning courses have developed the students’ language competence and have fostered the development of their digital competence, team-working and collaboration skills, problem-solving skills and learning-to-learn thus motivating them to become autonomous learners. The pedagogy-based approach applied in the current research has been successful despite a few flaws in the design of the course materials.

Open access
Intellectual Leadership of Researchers in Higher Education: Relationship Between the Demographic Factors and Roles (Lithuanian Context)

Abstract

The intellectual leadership of educators or teachers represents a topic of a great interest for educational research and practice. Variety of variables or factors have been examined to find the most complete explanations for teachers’, professors’ and educators’ roles, for example, institutional, financial, gender, organizational, spiritual, and intellectual. No literature was found on the relationship between the demographic variables and researchers’ roles in higher education regarding intellectual leadership. But a lot of studies are focused on the relationship between demographic and other factors in education: job satisfaction, organizational justice, religion, gender, culture, personal and professional roles, stress, mental health, and mobility. The research issue in this study is related to researchers’/scientists’ work in higher education schools and is focused on intellectual leadership, which consists of different roles. It is worth to think about researchers as intellectual leaders and to discover how they recognize or identify their roles in higher education. In this study, findings answer the following research question: “What are the relationships between researchers’ roles and their gender, work experience, dissertation defence date, and research field?” The object of the research study is the researchers’ roles in higher education. The aim of the study was to reveal the relationship between demographic factors and researchers’ roles in higher education. Data were collected by performing a questioning survey and using a validated questionnaire with 116 statements in total. The sample consisted of 304 researchers working in higher education institutions. For data analysis, Cronbach’s alpha, Mean and ANOVA calculations were used. The research findings reported that the female-researchers’ evaluations were higher in all cases regarding their roles in higher education schools. The results of the study highlighted that the male-researchers were devoted to the roles of academic citizens and mentors, while they did not refer the interest for academic freedom and the role of a knowledge producer. Findings revealed that the role of an academic citizen is perceived equally to other roles, despite the fact that researchers work in different research fields. In this research study, the highest estimates were given to the roles by the researchers representing medical sciences. Results showed that the lowest estimates for the diverse roles in higher education were provided by the researchers from engineering sciences. A correlation analysis between distinguished minor roles descriptions revealed that the participation of scientists in society debates and public policy correlates with all the remaining roles of scientists very weakly or weakly. The strongest correlation with all roles refers to academic duty, critic, personal development, and acting in one research field. In conclusion, intellectual leadership is the scope of challenging processes regarding developing, designing, creating, defining, ensuring, critiquing, teaching, instructing, researching, mentoring, enabling questioning, generating, envisioning, advocating, encouraging, re-imagining, managing, representing, counseling, achieving, evaluating, acting, and providing. The general components here refer to ideas, values, understandings, solutions, beliefs, visions, knowledge, approaches, purposes, and actions. By concluding the study, it is worth to accentuate that the demographic factors that are meaningful in studying the researchers’ roles within the intellectual leadership in higher education are the following - gender and research areas. The work experience in higher education and the year of Ph.D. defence are not the factors, which are meaningfully related to the role performance, academic duty and academic freedom of the researcher as an intellectual leader in higher education.

Open access
Considerations on Intellectual and Academic Leadership of a Scholar in Higher Education: The Descriptive Literature Review

literature review and classification of cloud computing research. Communications of the Association for Information Systems , 31 (2), 35-60. Retrieved from http://aisel.aisnet.org/cais/vol31/iss1/2 Yielder, J., & Codling, A. (2004). Management and leadership in the contemporary university. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management , 26 (3), 315-328. Zydziunaite, V. (2016). Intellectual leadership of researchers in higher education: Relationship between the demographic factors and roles (Lithuanian Context). Acta Technologica Dubnicae, 6 (3), 11

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