Work Based Projects


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Work Based Projects

  1. 1. Work based projects as dissertations: where’s the theory, where’s the practice? Work based projects as dissertations: where’s the theory, where’s the practice? Annual Teaching and Learning Conference 2013
  2. 2. Postgraduate Course Feedback Ruth Miller and Alan Beadsmoore, School of Health and Education (Work Based Learning) with Professional practice students Annual Teaching and Learning Conference 2013
  3. 3. In this workshop we will: • Explore the concept and features of work based projects and practitioner inquiry • Consider the similarities and differences between this approach and a traditional dissertation • Discuss with students their personal and professional outcomes from undertaking a work based project • Evaluate whether this approach has relevance for your own undergraduate students
  4. 4. What is a work based project? • WBL projects tend to be practitioner led; typically emerge out of real workplace issues • Frequently negotiated between tutor, learner and employer using a learning agreement • Can involve consolidating existing abilities as well as developing new methodological capabilities • Relationship between learner and tutor typically more advisory than supervisory and aims to support construction of meaning and knowledge from practice 15/07/2013Slide 4
  5. 5. What is a work based project? WBL Non-WBL 3-way relationship Direct 2-way Commonly involves other parties Less common to involve others Multi-mode contact Face-to-face Negotiation of topic and process May be unilateral Plan is often emergent Plan negotiated at start Formalised 3 way learning agreement Formalised agreement not common May be assessed by practitioner Occasionally assessed by practitioners Products highly varied, but typically include reflective component Product conventional academic outputs; may not include reflective component Learner is an insider and may be expert in subject Supervisor expert Adviser expert in epistemology of practice Supervisor expert in epistemology of discipline Adviser and learner have distinct areas of expertise Supervisor and learner often in relationship of authoritative power 15/07/2013Slide 5
  6. 6. Preparing students for projects through ‘practitioner inquiry’ Start by getting students to consider their professional context • how do inquiries and projects lead to improving practice in their context? • What are the shared understandings, codes, culture, influences, and stakeholders 15/07/2013Slide 6 The most important aspect is the researchers own work practice and context ( their ‘situatedness’ Vygotsky 1962)
  7. 7. Its all about their purpose Get them to think about ‘what is the purpose of their project ?’ ‘what will the outcome be?’ Their purpose (aim and objectives) will drive the inquiry methods they use. And the format their project will take 15/07/2013Slide 7 Practitioner inquiry is: ‘a systematic and organised effort to investigate a specific problem that needs a solution’ (Sekran in Gray 2010)
  8. 8. Methodology for set purposes • Exploratory methods are often used at UG level • Evaluative methods and some aspects of action research are also used. • Often focussed on change and involving colleagues in the process (more at PG) • Critical reflection on the inquiry process and their own learning is integral. • Insights gained, maybe of interest to a wider audience but being generalisable is not the point. 15/07/2013Slide 8 But Practitioner inquiry is still: Systematic – based on a sequential process Principled – carried out according to explicit rules or methodology
  9. 9. What sort of projects do students do at UG level ? • They explore new ways of doing things • They generate solutions to problems • Their project has useful outcomes for them as a practitioner or their organisation 15/07/2013 Develop a fitness project in response to a need Investigate best practice to design some staff development Carry out an audit and feedback
  10. 10. Students experience • Jane Wakelin –BA Professional practice Early Years ‘Supporting children’s communication and language skills’ • Sandra Chakara – BSc Mental Health ‘Developing a smoking cessation programme’ • Irene – Nursing – MSc Nursing studies , ‘Evaluating a stress reduction programme for nurses’ 15/07/2013Slide 10
  11. 11. Q & A with students • What were the Personal and professional outcomes? 15/07/2013Slide 11
  12. 12. How is this approach suitable for emerging professionals? • WBL projects recognise that the workplace is a site of knowledge production • Number of activities can give rise to such knowledges: – Practice as Research – Research within Practice – Research for Practice 15/07/2013Slide 12
  13. 13. In Groups You may like to consider: • What are the opportunities for practitioner inquiry or work based projects with my own students? • Where does the theory fit in? • What are the useful features of a work based approach? • Are their commonalties with dissertations? 15/07/2013Slide 13
  14. 14. Feedback / conclusion • Some ideas to explore for relevance with own students 15/07/2013Slide 14
  15. 15. For further information: • Boud, D., and Costley, C. (2007) From project supervision to advising: new conceptions of the practice. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 44 (2), 119-130. • Costley,C, Elliot,G, and Gibbs,P (2010) Doing Work Based Research, London: Sage • Fox, M et al (2007)Doing Practitioner Research: Sage • Robson, C, (2011) Real world research, Oxford: Blackwell. Ruth Miller Alan Beadsmoore 15/07/2013Slide 15