02 SES 01 B, Work-Based Learning
The UK higher education (HE) landscape is strongly characterised by a theoretical approach to learning which can often be disconnected from the workplace. Two case studies that investigate alternative HE provisions are presented which to different extents offer a work-based learning approach to undergraduate study. The first considers the Edge Hotel School (EHS) as a case example of practically-based higher education. Students on the programme gain foundation or honours degrees from the University of Essex whilst working alongside industry professionals to operate a 4-star country house commercial hotel. The paper discusses how this model of higher education combines theoretical and practical knowledge and skills in contextually-relevant curricula and identify aspects of innovation relevant to the wider landscapes of hospitality education and practically-based higher education more generally. The paper further highlights issues such as the significance of the preparation of young people for the world of work (Tuomi-Grohn, T., and Engestrom, 2003; Guile, 2010), facilitating the links between academic studies and practical experience and situating practice-based education in the higher education landscape. The second research looks at Cardiff University’s National Software Academy (NSA) which offers degrees in applied software engineering. The academy was established in partnership between the university, local government and employers in order to address local skills shortages and regenerate the south Wales economy. Key aspects are the use of client-facing projects students work on in small teams to find solutions to tasks set by employers; the replication of a work-place environment in the NSA; and the high level of employer engagement from co-designing of the curriculum content to guest lectures. Both pieces of research were case studies and based on semi-structured interviews with a range of stakeholders, including teaching and senior-leader staff, focus groups with students, and interviews with employers and other key informants, in order to understand the design and delivery of the courses in particular relation to employer engagement and real-world learning. It is argued that as an inclusive perspective, work-based learning approaches can be regarded across a scale with varying degrees of theory and practice (Evans et al, 2006). The two models described here offer distinct approaches, the EHS could be considered as offering a high level of real workplace engagement, whilst the NSA delivers its courses in a simulated workplace setting and with a distinct employer engagement.
References: Evans, K., Hodkinson, P., Rainbird, H., & Unwin, L. (2006). Improving Workplace Learning. New York: Routledge. Guile, D. (2010). The learning challenge of the knowledge economy. Rotterdam: Sense Kersh, N., Waite, E., and& Evans, K. (2012). The spatial dimensions of workplace learning: Acquiring literacy and numeracy skills within the workplace. In R. Brooks, A. Fuller, & J. Waters (Eds.), Changing Spaces of Education: New Perspectives on the Nature of Learning, (pp. 182–204). London: Routledge.: 182–204 Tuomi-Grohn, T., and Engestrom, Y. (2003) Between School and Work: New Perspectives on Transfer and Boundary Crossing. Oxford: Pergamon
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