Education institutes are under increasing pressure to be more and better involved in society as part of their third mission. One approach for education institutes to adhere to this shift is through the implementation of engaged learning methodologies where students learn through their active participation in society.
Many studies already looked into the barriers to manifesting the institutionalision of engaged education. However, there has been limited comparison over the different types of education institutes. In addition, the current research often fails to capture the complexity of individual and organisational responses within the complex system that they are part of.
This project aims to provide insights into the complexity of individual and organisational responses when considering the institutionalisation of engaged education by using a multi-level perspective. Specifically, this study will consider how individuals (micro) give meaning to engaged education considering the organisational (meso) and the broader environment (macro) level within different types of educational institutes using the institutional logics perspective. Institutional logics can be defined as the “belief systems and related practices that predominate in an organisational field”.
In our research, we included one Research University (VU), one University of Applied Science (HvA) and one Vocational Education Institute (ROC) within the region of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. 13 in-depth semi structured interviews with professionals involved in engaged education activities from these three different education institutes have been conducted to gain insights into the logics (belief systems and related practices) that motivate them to start up an engaged project, logics that align and conflict with their believes and how they make sense of possible conflicting logics.
Lessons and outcomes
Although the research is currently ongoing, the first preliminary results show that institutional environments consist of varying and even conflicting institutional logics. This variety of logics can enable innovations (such as engaged education practices). Indeed, individuals have the potential to reconstruct the rules, norms and beliefs that guide their actions. They can leverage logics by drawing on the dominant logic to achieve minority logic goals (the minority logic being linked to engaged education), they can hybridise logics by modifying existing practices to allow for engagement and finally they can shield the minority logic from influences of the dominant logic. All these individual sensemaking responses could lead to systemic changes in the education institute and with that the institutionalisation of engaged education.