Students' Opinions on Philosophy Courses
AbstractUniversities seeking to provide modern education face a constant need to update their courses. This study was conducted to collect and analyze empirical data to help philosophy course designers consider the views of Ukrainian students about effective ways to learn this subject. A survey was conducted among 40 humanities students and 34 social science students to determine participants’ views on a number of key issues related to the organization of the learning process in the Philosophy course. Most of the students surveyed said that of the types of skills and knowledge that can be acquired during the course, they will find critical thinking skills and the skills needed to build and argue their own positions on ethical, social and worldview issues most valuable in their future professional activities. The majority of respondents named traditional lectures and discussions of lecture videos as their preferred forms of learning philosophy. Their preferred forms of assessment of students’ knowledge and skills in philosophy were essays, as well as reports and participation in the discussion during practical lessons. The study also identified three significant differences in the responses of the surveyed humanities and social science students. First, socio-scientific students valued the opportunity to develop their communication skills in the framework of the Philosophy course significantly more than humanities students. Second, humanities students included thought experiments among the most desirable ways of learning philosophy, unlike social science students, who included case studies. Third, in contrast to humanities students, social science students considered quizzes to be one of the best forms of assessment for the course. In addition to the above, this study also compared the data on the opinions of social sciences and humanities students with the results of the previous survey of 60 STEM students about their thoughts on the course. The comparative analysis revealed five common features and two significant differences in the responses of students from these three fields of knowledge. The common belief among surveyed students in all three groups is that learning philosophy can provide them with the skills and knowledge they will need in their professional activities after graduation from university. Moreover, they prefer skills to knowledge. In all three groups of respondents, a large number of students named critical thinking and argumentation skills as the ultimate achievements in the learning of philosophy. Another finding was that surveyed students from all three groups do not give priority to learning the concepts of modern philosophers over learning the ideas of ancient philosophers. In addition, respondents from all three fields showed the least interest in those forms of knowledge and skills that are difficult to use outside of highly specialized philosophical activities. As for the differences, the study showed that STEM students are significantly less likely to believe that they will need the historico-philosophical components of the Philosophy course in their further professional activities than students in the humanities and social sciences. They are also more interested in developing communicative skills in the process of learning philosophy than the surveyed humanities students.
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