Turning a Problem into an Opportunity:
Using undergraduates' part-time term-time work to help them to learn
Pamela Houghton and Jeanne Hill
Department of International Business, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK
This paper describes an initiative designed to recognise the 'changing roles and changing lives' (Silver and Silver, 1997) of our full-time undergraduates. One of these changing dimensions is the increasing amount of time they spend working in occupations unrelated to their academic discipline. The University of Central Lancashire has responded to this 'problem' by developing an elective module called 'Learning from Work', offered to students on all programmes the University. Working from the theoretical base of Kolb's (1976) theory of experiential learning, this module aims to provide an academic framework to encourage students to reflect upon, learn from, and develop the skill of transferability of learning between their experience of work and their programme of study.
The paper reports upon research undertaken to explore students' ability to transfer their learning between academic and work situations. It reviews the process design of the 'Learning from Work' module, to gain information on students' use of the Kolb cycle, their preferred learning styles and especially their ability to reflect on and transfer their learning. It also reviews students' experiences and perceptions of the metacognitive process.
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