• Developing a pedagogical model for facilitating situated learning: A study

      Wall, Tony; Leonard, Dilys T.; University of Chester (European Association for Practitioner Research in Improving Learning, 2011-11)
      Learning through workplace activity and workplace projects, as part of a university level qualification, is an increasingly common approach for practitioners to study part-time higher education. In facilitating such ‘learning through work’ approaches, it is appropriate to adopt a learner centred pedagogy which is grounded in that workplace, and which creates ‘situated knowledge’ (Lave and Wenger, 1991). As described by Gibbons et al. (1994), this can create ‘mode 2’ knowledge which is situated, messy, problem-based and trans-disciplinary – rather than ‘mode 1’ knowledge which is academic/theoretical, sequential and organised by disciplinary boundaries. In assessing such ‘learning through work’ approaches, we have identified three recurring practical issues: learners focusing on describing rather than critical reflecting on their work for new insight, learners rejurgitating theory, and/or critically reflecting on practice without reference to mode 1 academic knowledge. As a result, the projects and assessments were considered to hold greater potential for change. This study draws on practice and data from the University of Chester’s Centre for Work Related Studies, one of the largest providers of negotiated, work based university-level learning, globally. In order to develop the facilitation of mode 2, situated knowledge, a pedagogical model was developed and refined over a period of two years – with learners across professional fields and disciplines, across different ‘learning through work’ subject foci including negotiated project learning, stress and stress management, communication skills, coaching practice and skills, academic skills, research skills, and so on. Using a cyclic first person action research methodological approach (see Whitehead and McNiff, 2006), the model was used in group workshop contexts and one-to-one facilitation contexts with professionals studying work based learning degrees at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Individual feedback was sought after each interaction and learner feedback and grades for assessments were monitored. What are the findings and interpretations? The University’s distinctive pedagogical model (reported by Brodie and Irving, 2007) provided a starting point for the investigation. In trying to develop an effective and practical tool to explain and facilitate learning in mode 2 knowledge generation, another model emerged. Three distinctive aspects emerged based on Gibbons et al’s (1994) conception of mode 1 and mode 2 knowledge, in the shape of a triangle: 1. theoretical knowledge (mode 2 academic ideas, principles, theories), 2. critical reflection (questioning for new insight), and 3. the workplace (activity in it, as a location/space focus). During the development period, we have identified that learners place a high value on the model to structure own thinking and to help them articulate and structure the assessments. For them, it clearly distinguishes three important elements to pay attention to. Teaching staff have also found it easier and quicker to explain the mode of learning and assessments.