Growing work based learning in Europe

Light, Barbara (2008) Growing work based learning in Europe. DProf thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

This doctoral project is a case study of how work based learning began to grow in Europe through the conceptualisation and development of a common European work based learning platform in a pan-European partnership. The partnership, known as DEWBLAM (Developing European Work Based Learning Approaches and Methods), was established in order to introduce higher education institutions to work based learning, enabling them to pilot their own programmes relevant to local needs and situations. The project was framed within European protocols, such as the Bologna Process that aims to modernise and transform different national higher education systems into a transparent and comparable European system. The methodological approach is interpretative and constructivist, enabling me to theorise the how and why of events, and allowing theories to emerge from the data. I use an explanatory case study, which is retrospective as the DEWBLAM project has ended and no further intervention is possible, test validity through action research indicators, and draw relatable inferences. I analyse the multi-layered ecology of the DEWBLAM project, identifying how changing postmodern epistemologies and internal/external environments affected the partnership, highlighting the need to establish a meta-narrative and drawing on my previous professional practice to support my role in facilitating the processes of knowledge creation. I then critically analyse the definitions and distinctive features of work based learning that were collectively conceptualised, referencing these within current thinking, and raising concerns at these definitions as job-related competences. I consider the case for meshing academic and work based knowledge with competence to form the concept of competent knowledge and analyse the bounded relationships of universities and the work place, proposing new ways of engagement that allow multi-directional knowledge flows. Finally, I give an overview of the doctoral project outcomes, evaluate the potential impact of DEWBLAM, highlighting the contribution to knowledge and local knowledge economies made by the platform and the ensuing pilot programmes. I reflect on my achievements and on my own practice, and conclude by recommending that, inter alia, the expert practitioners at Middlesex University need to contribute more to informing current debates on new European educational realities, in order to avoid the prevalence of too narrow interpretations of work based learning.

Item Type:Thesis (DProf)
Research Areas:Institute for Work Based Learning
Theses
ID Code:9117
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Deposited On:22 May 2012 11:17
Last Modified:14 May 2014 10:25

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