Applied Learning Educators Searching for a Pedagogical Model

Applied Learning Educators Searching for a Pedagogical Model

Christine Schulz (Deakin University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9634-1.ch030
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Australia, like many nations across the globe, has a focus on engaging young people in the post compulsory years of school to ensure their transition into further education, training and /or the workforce. Applied Learning programs which are based on the premise of active, transformative learning from authentic experience have emerged as valuable tools in assisting the transition of young people. Understanding of Applied Learning however, not only varies between nations but also disciplines, context, education settings and curricula. Using a lens of boundary crossing, this chapter draws on research data to provide an account of challenges educators face in an Australian program where there appears little guidance for educators on constructing an Applied Learning pedagogical model for individual practice. From consideration of data and educational theory an Applied Learning pedagogical framework is proposed as a guide for educators in developing Applied Learning programs.
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Like many governments across the globe Australia has a focus on engaging young people in the post compulsory years of school to ensure their transition into further education, training and/or the workforce. Applied Learning has emerged as a valuable engagement tool in a range of contexts.

The understanding of Applied Learning varies in and across nations and settings (Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority, 2011; Harrison, 2006; Shacklock, 2006; Malyn-Smith, 2004). Even within this Handbook of Applied Learning Theory and Design in Modern Education there will be contradictions, discontinuities and tension regarding what applied learning is. One reason for this may be because there appears a lack of literature exploring theoretical underpinnings of Applied Learning. Despite a lack of identifiable literature relating to Applied Learning as theory a summary of a range of contexts where reference is made to using Applied Learning follows. Frustratingly most do not necessarily explain how Applied Learning is understood within that context.

The term Applied Learning is frequently used within Higher Education settings in the United States of America, Singapore, Australia and Canada in relation to courses that include workplace learning components which are completed with industry partners or other authentic learning contexts (Philomin 2015, Corpus 2015, The Evening Sun 2015, MWSU 2014). Such opportunities provide learning relevant to the industry (or vocation) students intend to enter. Bryant University in the USA has recently upgraded teaching space to promote collaborative learning (including installation of video conferencing links), rather than traditional lecture approaches. Underpinning these changes is an intention to connect students to companies such as ‘Target’ to solve real industry problems by applying learning (Daddona 2015). Other Higher Education providers such as the University of North Carolina in the United States of America offer and promote programs which focus on community partnerships and engagement or value service learning associated with workplace experience (Port City Daily 2015, EKU 2012).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority: The Victorian government authority responsible for assessment and curriculum at P-12 level.

Applied Learning Educator: One who uses the pedagogy of Applied Learning as the basis for their teaching practice.

Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning: A post compulsory qualification in Victoria with a focus on providing young people with work ready skills and qualifications.

Technical and Further Education: Registered providers who provide nationally recognised, vocationally oriented qualifications at post compulsory levels.

Victorian Certificate of Education: A post compulsory qualification in Victoria with a focus on preparing students for study at university.

Adult Community Education: Adult learning programs delivered in community settings supporting the notion that education should be available and accessible to all. Providers might be community houses or community libraries (for example).

Quality Assurance: A process to ensure consistency of assessment planning across providers.

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