Mainstreaming work based learning through practitioner research: Insights from the Lifelong Learning Networks
- Publisher: Middlesex University
The Lifelong Learning Networks (LLNs) aim to progress vocational learners into and through higher education. Much LLN work has focused on work based learning; ranging from staff development, progression agreements and design of new curriculum. This paper will synthesise research findings from LLNs in the field of work based learning, drawing out lessons learned in relation to overcoming challenges and enhancing widening access and student retention and success. More specifically, the paper will draw on research carried out in institutions as diverse as Southern Further Education College and a Northern University that have investigated the impact of different modes of practice on the strategic development and student experience of work based learning. A common theme is the need for greater industry involvement in the curriculum, including assessment which is often seen as the preserve of academics. The importance of this level of involvement for the genuine professional development of students is examined. The research suggests that there is a gradual, piecemeal evolution in the design and delivery of work based learning as academics gain a greater understanding of the needs of work based learners. As work based learning moves from the margins to the mainstream, an opportunity is opening up to share the results of these various pieces of action research and natural experiments, and to use them to challenge current assumptions and practices where necessary. We argue that active sharing is essential if the\ud sector is to meet the challenges of workforce development in the current funding climate.
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