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Work integrated learning for life : encouraging agentic engagement

Peach, Deborah & Matthews, Judy H. (2011) Work integrated learning for life : encouraging agentic engagement. In HERSA Conference 2011 : Higher Education on the Edge, 4-7 July 2011, Radisson Resort, Gold Coast, QLD.

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Abstract

In a rapidly changing world where new work patterns impact on our health, relationships and social fabric, it is critical that we reconsider the role universities could or should play in helping students prepare for the complexities of the 21st century. Efforts to respond to economic imperatives such as the skills shortage have seen a rush to embed work integrated and career development learning in the curriculum as well as a strengthening of the discourse that the university’s role is primarily to produce industry ready or ‘oven ready and self basting’ graduates (Atkins, 1999). This narrow focus on ‘giving industry what industry wants’ (Patrick, Peach & Pocknee, 2009) ignores the importance of helping students develop the types of skills and dispositions they will need. To enable students to thrive not just survive socially and economically in a radically unknowable world, where knowledge becomes obsolete, we need to be ready to develop new futures (Barnett, 2004).

This paper considers the concept of ‘work’, the role it plays in our lives, and our aspirations to build sustainable, socially connected communities. We revisit the assumptions underlying the employability argument (Atkins, 1999) in the light of changing notions of work (Hagel, Seely Brown & Davison, 2010), and the need for higher education to contribute to a better and more sustainable society (Pocock, 2003). Specifically we present initiatives developed from work integrated learning (WIL) programs in the United Kingdom and Australia, where WIL programs are framed within the broader context of real world and life-wide curriculum (Jackson, 2010), and where transferable skills and elements of work-related learning programs prepare students for less certain job futures. Such approaches encourage students to take an agentic role (Billett & Pavlova, 2005) in selecting their work possibilities to develop resilience and capabilities to deal with new and challenging situations, assisting students to become who they want to be not just what they want to be. The theoretical and operational implications and challenges of shaping real world and life-wide curriculum will be investigated in more depth in the next phase of this research.

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ID Code: 44064
Item Type: Conference Paper
Keywords: Work Integrated Learning, Curriculum Reform, Social Connectedness
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > OTHER EDUCATION (139900)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 [please consult the authors]
Deposited On: 19 Aug 2011 08:23
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2014 18:30

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