Reconciling ‘Graduateness’ and\ud Work-based Learning

Article English OPEN
Walsh, Anita ; Kotzee, Ben ; University of Gloucestershire (2010)
  • Publisher: University of Gloucestershire
  • Subject: LB2300

The last decade has seen a development of interest in the nature of\ud ‘graduateness’. Starting with the (former) Higher Education Quality\ud Council’s Graduate Skills project in the mid-1990s and culminating\ud in the current preoccupation with transferable skills, the question\ud has been asked what the common skills or attributes are that\ud distinguish graduates from non-graduates. In contrast with business\ud or government’s interest in generic graduate skills, the view of\ud graduateness within universities is very much associated with specific\ud disciplines and undergraduate education with enculturation into a\ud particular academic discipline. This focus on disciplinary content has\ud posed some challenges for the design of Foundation degrees, which\ud are intended to be a blend of academic and workplace learning, and it\ud also reinforces the academic/vocational divide. Recently, a number of\ud honours degrees entitled ‘Professional Studies’ have been developed;\ud these awards are designed to offer successful Foundation degree\ud students a route through to honours which uses work-based learning.\ud These awards vary in content and structure but tend to be designed on\ud the basis that generic graduate attributes, which Barrie defines\ud ‘… as being the skills, knowledge and abilities of university graduates,\ud beyond disciplinary content knowledge …’ (2004, p.262), can be\ud developed outside a conventional academic discipline.\ud \ud This paper examines the pedagogic principles underlying the design\ud of one work-based learning ‘top up’ programme which leads to a BSc\ud in Professional Studies. It explores the issues involved in drawing\ud directly on experience in the workplace as the material for higher\ud level learning. The programme challenges conventional pedagogic\ud approaches which are dominant in the university, and emphasises the\ud importance of direct action and experience to learning. The authors\ud outline the challenges which need to be addressed in programme\ud design when moving away from a focus on disciplinary content,\ud and explain the importance of a focus on process in reconciling\ud graduateness and work-based learning.
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