In today’s society, innovations are seen as solutions for many global problems; for social and environmental issues, as key elements for organizations and companies to survive in the changing world, boosters for the economy, and as a trendy concept highlighted in many policies. As a result, there seems to be an urgent need for professionals who are capable of participating in innovation processes and who can contribute to the creation of innovations. Educational institutions, regardless of context, are expected to prepare innovative individuals capable of coping with demands of innovation-driven society.
To respond to these claims, the aim of this study is to research students’ innovation competences in higher education. This study presents and evaluates assessment tools to measure students’ innovation competences, test them in practice, and examine students’ innovation competences in innovative learning environments based on innovation pedagogy at the course and degree levels. The study has been implemented at one Finnish university of applied sciences, where innovation competences have been set as learning targets for all students in its pedagogical strategy, which is called innovation pedagogy. The research includes four independent case studies using mixed research methods.
The dissertation study shows that innovation competence can be assessed, learned and supported already in higher educational environments. The study suggests that higher education institutions have a meaningful role in training innovative professionals, but special consideration should be placed on developing innovative learning environments. With specific learning environments and tools, we can support the development of students’ innovation competences.
This study not only presents some examples of innovative learning environments based on innovation pedagogy but also concrete tools to assess and boost students’ innovation competences. The tested instruments bring a new perspective and support for curriculum design, pedagogical practices and teaching, and assessment in higher education.
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