Transprofessionalism Formation When Teaching Foreign Languages: New Competences Of A University Teacher

Abstract

The issues that modern research on autism currently explores are quite diverse: starting with studying the features of the psychophysical development and individual capabilities of children with autism spectrum disorders and ending with the development of new models of timely comprehensive correction of developmental disorders and social adaptation of people who belong to this category. The purpose of the study is to contour special educational needs of children with autism which impede their successful socialization. The study involved content analysis of modern research conducted by leading experts in the field of autism devoted to the study of autism phenomenon, identification, and refinement of diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorders, and the determination of the effectiveness of integrated models of support for children with autism. The analysis helped to reveal polymorphism of views and directions in the study of the features of autism manifestations. The analysis allowed clarifying the existing knowledge concerning the three-component model of autism which includes disorders in communication and speech, behavior and socialization, as well as knowledge concerning the peculiarities of mental development of children with autism. The study explored the main tools of modern diagnostic examinations and described the variable models of education and upbringing of children with ASD. The data presented in the article make it possible to determine the psychological and pedagogical conditions of socialization of children with autism.

Keywords: Trans-professionalismforeign languagetechnical university

Introduction

It is a well-known fact that education is a task-oriented process of educating and upbringing, carried out in the interests of people, society, and state. It is clear that it cannot be effective without considering the current situation in the country and the world, without adequate evaluation of the society, without a clear understanding of the human needs as an individual and as a member of modern society.

Focusing on the actual tendencies in the development of economy and society, considerably determining “well-being” of the whole state and its citizen separately, is one of the necessary conditions of educational success. Pedagogical education that provides specialists training in education sphere should, undoubtedly, follow the nowadays trends, respond to the challenges of the modern world. It is not only the course of professional training in the pedagogical institute, but also the courses of the professional development, that provide continuity of pedagogical education and allow the teacher to master the most required knowledge and competencies.

Problem Statement

Modern economy identified as post-industrial causes high dynamism of labour market, that turns into considerable instability of the work, the bad influence on separate citizens and individuals. Nowadays many people, who have professional education, do not work in their professional sphere and need to change their professional activity many times and master new knowledge and skills urgently. Moreover, labour market requires specialists who do not only have well developed narrowly-specialized competences but able to evaluate complex (interdisciplinary) problem cases, usage of convergent technologies from various professional spheres, also close contacts with the representatives of other specialties, effective work with them in one team. In this connection, the researchers speak about an evident blurring of boundaries between separate professions, about the tendency for broadening the work functions of employees that now should know how to solve the tasks that go beyond their profession (Malinovskiy, 2007; Kovalchuk, 2011; Ronzhina, 2018).

Consequently, the question of the necessity of forming new qualitative characteristics, i.e. trans-professionalism is becoming vitally important. According to the definition by Zeyer and Symanyuk (2017), trans-professionalism is an integral quality of a specialist that demonstrates their skills to master and carry out activities of different types and groups of professions. Trans-professionalism provides the ability of an employee to work beyond his or her obtained profession, apply achievements and technologies of other spheres of knowledge, successfully master new competencies and find non-standard solutions on the base of transdisciplinary synthesis and cross-professional communication (Maksimova, 2013; Yalalov, 2015; Vakhidova & Gabitova, 2016).

The term trans-professionalism was introduced into Russian scientific discourse by Malinovskiy (2007) in 1992; the most frequently cited research papers in foreign scientific literature belong to Horsburgh and Ladmin appeared at the beginning of the 21st century (Horsburgh, Ladmin, & Williamson, 2001). As we see the discussion around this problem has taken place for more than for one decade. Nevertheless, many issues are still not discovered, and there is no unanimous definition of trans-professionalism, its full concept has not been elaborated, no definite boundaries are set between homogeneous concepts as trans-professionalism, trans-fessionalism, multi-professionalism, poly-professionalism, interprofessionalism; lists of competencies that are necessary for a trans-professional worker differ. The most practically urgent aspect is the issue of the trans-professionalism formation which is presented as insufficiently elaborated. For example, the possibilities of development of trans-professional competence in the process of foreign language learning are generally described, though the necessity and possible productivity of such purposeful work is recognized and identified by many researchers (Lazareva, 2015; Lebedeva & Kudryakov, 2018).

Research Questions

Consequently, the relevance of trans-professionalism in the modern labour market, and also its insufficient elaboration of the problem of its formation in the system of higher and secondary professional education determine the urgency of our research. The studied questions were the possibilities of trans-professionalism by the means of the discipline “Foreign Language” and their realization by means of upgrading the level of competence of the teachers in the process of the suggested developed professional training course.

Purpose of the Study

Our purpose was the development of the curriculum of the course for the specialists in higher professional education who teach foreign language aimed at upgrading these competencies, which are necessary for effective development of trans-professionalism for the student in the course of foreign language learning. The set aim requires the solution of the following tasks: 1) the analysis of psycho-pedagogical and research-methodological literature about the considered issue; 2) evaluations of potential possibilities of the discipline “Foreign language”, that will facilitate the formation of trans-professionalism; 3) definition of competences of a teacher and other conditions, which are necessary for the most effective (in terms of trans-professionalism formation) organization of foreign language learning.

Research Methods

The following methods were used: theoretical (analysis, synthesis, specification, generalization), diagnostical (questionnaire, interviewing), empirical (the study of work experience of teachers, lesson observation, experimental ascertaining, forming and controlling experiments). The experimental base of the research is federal state budgetary educational organization of higher education “Samara State Technical University”.

Findings

It is a well-known fact that the goal of learning a foreign language is the formation of foreign language communicative competence. Good knowledge of a foreign language is very important in the set of competencies of a modern employee, guaranteeing him or her additional opportunities for more efficient intercultural communication (with colleagues, partners, clients, etc.) and more efficient search for relevant information (in the inter-professional information environment). Although foreign language communicative competence is not included in the trans-professional ones, it can nevertheless be one of the decisive factors for the success of a multi-professional team if it consists of representatives from different countries.

Foreign language communicative competence is, although the main, but by no means, the only competence acquired by students in the process of learning a foreign language. Modern methods of teaching a foreign language, implying, in particular, very wide use of active teaching methods, allow students to develop those skills and abilities that may be in demand in their professional activities that are in no way connected with a foreign language. In particular, students can get highly demanded (from the point of view of trans-professionalism formation) experience in team and project work. At the moment, the formation of competencies that ensure the effectiveness of these types of activities takes place at foreign language classes mainly spontaneously, unintentionally. Meanwhile, a more conscious approach to solving this problem will allow using relevant opportunities of the discipline more efficiently and will provide a better result.

Based on this assumption, we decided to study the experience of our colleagues – foreign language teachers of Samara State Technical University – for the likely effectiveness of their work in the formation of trans-professional competences. We emphasize that we are talking about the likely effectiveness, which, we assume, can be judged only based on the teacher’s attitudes, from the goals and objectives that a specialist sets for himself, organizing the educational process in one way or another, from those materials and methods which he or she prefers to use in his work. Unfortunately, it was not possible to talk about an assessment of the teacher’s real effectiveness; it is obvious that such assessment can only be based on an assessment of the quality of students trans-professional competences, but the criteria for this assessment of psychological-pedagogical science has not yet been worked out.

At the stage of diagnostics, teachers were asked to fill out a questionnaire consisting of three sections.

In the first section, we asked them to determine the goal of a foreign language course, as they see and understand it. We understand that it is with goal setting that any conscious human activity begins so that it is the goal that largely determines the organization of this activity, the selected means, and the result itself. Based on the fact that the goal of a professionally oriented foreign language course should be adequate to the students' future professional activity, we also asked teachers to describe in more detail how they see the most likely professional future of their students. By comparing teachers' predictions with current statistical data, as well as with expert assessments and the results of recent research in this area, we were ultimately able to judge the adequacy of the goal formulated by them and, as a result, the compliance of their approach with the real demands of the modern labor market, economy and society.

In the first section of the questionnaires the teachers were asked if they know what trans-professionalism is, and, if they know (or guess), to define their attitude to the formation of trans-professionalism in the process of foreign language teaching. We proceeded from the fact that the teacher’s awareness level in this matter, as well as his or her possible attitude, play a decisive role in many ways, creating (or not creating) the necessary conditions for the successful implementation of the plans, for the qualitative development of trans-professionalism.

In the second part of the questionnaire, teachers were asked to identify the competencies, abilities, skills, qualities, etc., which they develop (they consider possible and necessary to develop) in the process of foreign language learning. We proceeded from the fact that competences are the main structural component of trans-professionalism, as the development of competencies reflect the possible level of trans-professionalism itself.

In the third part of the questionnaire, the teachers indicated the most frequently used methods and training technologies, and also gave their own assessment of the effectiveness. The received answers allowed us to judge how effective the teaching methods that are recognized by experts will be.

The answers received at the stage of diagnostics allowed us to state the following.

According to teachers’ opinion the main goal of foreign communicative competence formation, first of all, is quick searching of professionally relevant information and effective intercultural communication with foreign colleagues. It is noteworthy that, among these two aspects of the modern engineer’s activity, none of the respondents mentioned the interdisciplinary character of both the information search and professional communication. In general, the images of professional activities of future graduates determined by teachers correspond to reality only partially. It can be concluded with a high degree of confidence that teachers organize the process of learning a foreign language according to the former, partially outdated, ideas about the professional needs of a modern employee.

As follows from the answers of the respondents in this section of the questionnaire, their attitude to such a task as the formation of trans-professionalism in the process of foreign language learning is rather negative. It can be assumed that this is primarily due to the low level of awareness of teachers: almost all of them admitted that they had never heard anything about trans-professionalism and had no idea about the meaning of this word. The poor awareness of teachers causes their distorted perception of this competence, as they see it as a direct threat to the fundamental nature of modern education, implying, among other things, a very narrow specialization. Such ideas do not correspond to reality: trans-professionalism, although contrasted with traditional professionalism, does not in any way exclude the importance of the acquired specialty, does not underestimate the importance of both general and narrow professional competences. Thus, the ability to work effectively within a multi-professional team, which is largely decisive in the context of trans-professional specific activities, implies not only the development of skills of interprofessional interaction, which requires, among other things, a good understanding of roles of everyone in the team and the essence of teamwork in general.

The answers from the second section of the questionnaire proved the incomplete compliance of the teachers' attitudes with the current socio-economic conditions. Thus, the respondents mentioned very few competencies that are related to trans-professionalism in the process of foreign language learning. The teachers indicated a relatively small number of competences: the majority of respondents indicated just 2-3 competencies, although we asked to indicate 3-5 units. This, among other things, indicates an inadequately underestimated assessment of the potential of the means of the taught discipline, an incomplete awareness of its capabilities (including the formation of trans-professionalism).

The answers of the third section of the questionnaire showed that teachers mentioned the methods of instruction which can contribute to the development of qualities and competencies that ensure the success of trans-professional activities to a small extent. Recognizing the potential effectiveness of the most sought-after personal and activity-oriented technologies, teachers, however, admit that they are used very rarely. They suppose that it is rather difficult to use them and this difficulty is not justified and it is useless. In this regard, many of them continue to use the majority of the most traditional forms of work: reading, translation, retelling, annotating text, performing lexical and grammatical exercises, etc.

Analysis of the results obtained at the stage of diagnostics determined the need to solve the following tasks. First of all, this is raising the level of teachers' awareness of the current trends in the global labor market, the specifics of working under modern socio-economic conditions and, of course, the specifics of such a relatively new quality of a specialist as trans-professionalism. The solution of this task seems to be necessary for teachers to develop a more adequate approach to the organization of foreign language teaching and, in particular, a more conscious and attentive attitude towards the problem of trans-professionalism formation which fully corresponds to modern realities. It is the important and relevant information that will allow teachers to adjust their ideas about the future professional needs of their students, which should be the first step towards increasing the effectiveness of their work towards the formation of the most demanded competences today, including those that ensure the success of trans-professional activities.

Secondly, it seems necessary to familiarize teachers with the key and additional capabilities of the Foreign Language discipline, the fuller realization of which can greatly contribute to the development of trans-professionalism among students. The discipline "Foreign Language" has a very tangible potential, which, however, for the most part, remains unfulfilled. Adequate assessment of the potential of the taught discipline will allow teachers to organize the educational process more effectively, focusing on the use of the methods and materials that are most effective in this regard.

Thirdly, we set ourselves the task of improving the skills and abilities of teachers, who, above all others, provide the high-quality implementation of the most effective teaching methods and techniques from the point of view of trans-professionalism formation. The solution of this task, of course, implies the inclusion in the curriculum, in addition to lectures and seminars, focused mainly on increasing the level of teaching competence in the aspect of theory, as well as educational practices that would allow teachers to gain valuable experience of using the methods and technologies in accordance with specific requirements and installations. In addition, obtaining additional practical experience and, as a result, increasing the level of competence in this regard, can significantly facilitate the future work of the teacher, make the use of the agreed methods less laborious and energy-intensive, thereby increasing the attractiveness of these forms of work in the teacher's eyes.

The tasks identified led to the inclusion of the following three modules in the course.

The first module “Trans-professionalism as a new quality of an employee” is designed for 4 hours of lectures and 2 hours of seminars, considers key issues for an adequate understanding of trans-professionalism, and also includes a test to control acquired knowledge.

This module is aimed at familiarizing students with the features of the post-industrial economy, which constitute its specificity and determine the development of certain trends in the modern labor market, including the relevance of such a relatively new quality specialist as trans-professionalism. The high degree of uncertainty in the development of the economy, its dynamism and low predictability led to very serious changes in the vocational qualification structure of labor resources: economists propose to introduce into science a new economic law of social development – the law of labor universality (in addition to the traditional law of division of labor). If Marx spoke about the universal worker, today universality is in demand in any field of activity. At the moment, there is a great demand for specialists with multidimensional socio-psychological qualities and supra-professional competencies that ensure the ability to perform a wide range of activities, the ability to go beyond the basic profession, enrich it with achievements and methods of other professions.

The information presented at the lectures of this module was selected not only for the purpose of correcting students' current ideas about the specifics of working under modern conditions but also so that they could later incorporate this thematic material into the program of a foreign language course. Let us clarify that one of the most important qualities of a trans-professionalism is, in the opinion of many experts, its psychological adaptability to social and professional uncertainty, i.e. willingness to work in conditions of rapid professional mobility so that interprofessional spaces should undoubtedly begin to be shaped by developing a tolerant attitude to the specific character of a future profession. A foreign language teacher can contribute to solving this problem, for example, by selecting appropriate topics for discussion, including texts on relevant topics in the educational process.

Within the framework of the first module, it was planned to familiarize trainees with the concepts of trans-professionalism presented in the Russian and foreign body of research. It was suggested to consider its components in particular, the skills of operating the convergent technologies used in other types and groups of professions, the ability for high-quality teamwork and technological activities, the ability to effectively interact with representatives of other professions within a single poly-professional team, problem-solving skills in situations and tasks that require a transdisciplinary synthesis of knowledge and a comprehensive multidimensional analysis.

An important aspect of the first module was also the rationale for the need of the purposeful work on the formation of trans-professionalism, which is one of the most important factors for a successful career within modern socio-economic conditions. The formation of trans-professionalism was considered a new, extremely important task of professional training, aimed at preparing for future profession and the quality of which, therefore, to a large extent, should be determined by the degree of compliance of the obtained competencies, knowledge, skills and abilities with the real demands of the labor market. In this regard, Russian professional education is faced with the urgent need to find a fundamentally new methodology that could provide high-quality training for a new type of specialist, i.e. a trans-professional.

The second module “Formation of Trans-professionalism in the Process of a Foreign Language Teaching: Methods and Technologies” is designed for 4 hours lectures and 2 hours of seminars, involves reviewing methods and training technologies recognized by the experts as the most effective in the issue of trans-professionalism and language. The module also includes a test to control acquired knowledge.

Being part of this module, methods and technologies were proposed for analysis and discussion that can contribute to the development of students’ competencies and skills, as well as the formation of social and psychological qualities, providing the effectiveness of various activities in the interprofessional environment. In particular, it was planned to consider: 1) student-centered learning technologies that are aimed at the actualization of professional and personal students' potential, 2) activity-oriented learning technologies that allow students to gain practical experience in solving specific problem situations that do not have standard solutions, 3) interactive learning technologies that are focused on the development of skills for effective interaction and interprofessional communication.

The subject of a separate discussion within this module was the potential of information and communication, problem-searching, simulation, and game technologies, as well as technologies for contextual and developmental teaching. Their productivity from the point of view of the formation of trans-professionalism was highly appreciated primarily because of the nonlinear nature of the problem solution: the task is solved here not through a well-known algorithm, but heuristically, through the search for suitable methods and tools, as well as through the close interaction with partners. These technologies are focused on the most possible implementation of the effective-practical potential of the student's personality, on his self-development and self-determination.

Particular attention was paid to the possibilities of the project method of teaching, perhaps, the most effective from the point of view of the formation of trans-professionalism. Sociologists and economists talk about the project nature of the information society and, as a result, the project nature of all professional environments that are institutionalized in it. The so-called “third professional revolution” brought the process of “customization” to the fore when the desired result is being designed jointly with the customer, certainly taking into account their specific conditions. Design technologies occupy an exceptionally important place in the structure of modern expert’s work activity. The possibility of their effective use, as well as their operation, implies the formation of certain skills and abilities and concentrated, focused work of a teacher.

The high potential of the project method is determined, first of all, by its focus on both the personal and activity aspects of training and development. Its personal orientation means that the choice of a project is based on the needs of the student himself (or a group of students), certainly taking into account their individual characteristics, that the project should be important and significant for them. The activity component entails the performance of various types of quasi-professional activity by students, the possibility of the direct application of their knowledge and skills to solve research and practical problems, in the need to act in a situation of uncertainty.

The possibilities of using the project method in the process of foreign language teaching are very numerous and varied. The real cases from the experience of Russian and foreign teachers were used as the demonstration to the audience. During the discussion, the teachers also shared their personal experience in using the project method, outlining the main difficulties associated with its implementation.

The third module “Opportunities for the organization of foreign language teaching with the goal of the most effective formation of trans-professionalism” is aimed at improving practical skills of students, ensuring a successful implementation of the foreign language training methods and technologies discussed in the second module. It includes 2 hours of overview lectures and 4 hours of practical classes, where students have to present their final works – tasks portfolio, which will, in their opinion, contribute to the effective formation of trans-professionalism among students. In the final work, the justification of the choice of specific methods and technologies should be presented, the planned result should be indicated (i.e. those competencies and skills that the developed task is aimed at improving) and its significance for the qualitative implementation of work activities within the trans-professional specific character. A group discussion and critical analysis of presented final works are also planned.

Conclusion

The results of the tests conducted in the first and second modules, as well as the final works presented by the students, allow us to speak about the solution of the tasks set during the development of the course. The students demonstrated an adequate vision of the current socio-economic situation, which determines the relevance and probable career success of trans-professional workers, as well as a full understanding of them for focused work. They also showed the ability to apply the knowledge gained in practice, willingness to use opportunities of the taught discipline for the qualitative formation of trans-professionalism.

Development of trans-professionalism is a very difficult task that requires an integrated and consistent approach. It should be understood that its solution involves deep and global changes in the current system of professional training, which is poorly adapted to the post-industrial economy because of its traditional isolation and sector focus (in particular, it contradicts its dynamism, without creating sufficient conditions for future labor mobility and flexibility of workers). The scale of this task, among other things, implies active involvement of representatives of different structural levels in the process of reformatting professional education, so that each individual teacher, of course, has, in this case, his or her share of responsibility. This makes it relevant to consider the formation of trans-professionalism as one of the most popular areas of continuous pedagogical education. The discipline "Foreign Language" in the issue of the formation of trans-professionalism has, in our opinion, a good potential, which, however, remains mostly unrealized. This, among other things, indicates the need for additional training of teachers, which ultimately would improve their effectiveness. The advanced training course developed by us represents one of the variants of such training: it is built on the basis of data obtained by us at the diagnostic stage of the experiment, on the results of basic research of Russian and foreign researchers, as well as on our own experience of teaching a foreign language at a technical university.

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Publisher

European Publisher

First Online

23.01.2020

Doi

10.15405/epsbs.2020.01.37

Online ISSN

2357-1330