Practitioner inquiry and academic work-based learning

Adams, Anne and Hills, Laura (2007). Practitioner inquiry and academic work-based learning. In: 15th World Co-operative Education Conference (WACE '07), 26-29 Jun 2007, Singapore.



Practitioner Inquiry has been promoted as a means for people to research their own practice within many work-based contexts (e.g. education, social-work & health). Practitioner inquiry within work-based learning focuses on bridging the divide between academia and the employer. Yet in our endeavour to promote work-based learning we often forget the role of educational institutions in educating their own academics. In this context co-operative learning in-volves the lecturer as a student of his or her own practice, taught by other academics and supported by their educational employer. At the Open University, the largest distance education provider in the UK, this approach has been used to support educational professional development amongst both full and part-time academic staff. This paper reviews the use of practitioner inquiry as a tool for furthering educational work-based learning within three ‘Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning’. Over 40 projects have been conducted by lecturers from a variety of different disciplines all with a focus on practice-based reflection and the dissemination of good practice. Examples from these projects will be used to highlight the processes involved in researching teaching practice and the support needed. The consequences of practitioner inquiry on the practice and professional development of lecturers involved in the projects will be discussed, as well as bottlenecks in empowerment for and limitations in organisational change.

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