|Module 3: Your WBL project
|Introduction | Overview | Project models | Summary
You must be mindful of the dual stakeholders in your project, your workplace and your educational institution. Both have different requirements and your project must address and you must meet both requirements.
Your workplace will have a problem that they want solved, or a development they want undertaken, often to solve a problem or to review practice or bring in a new process. Your educational organisation requires that you can demonstrate your learning for academic within an assessment process.
- the University requirement that you demonstrate academic achievement (???) . But this is a different process to a classic research pathway, as your project is deeply grounded in your current understandings, and within the needs of your work context. You are an insider to this project. Your project is being undertaken within your practical work and it is focused on taking action. It leads to a practical outcome of benefit.
This is a complex environment, but there are real benefits. Here are the benefits that Middlesex University have found of workbased learning projects from their 25 years of workbased learning practice:
- It enables you to develop your personal and professional knowledge by applying investigative techniques in the workplace. Such techniques can uncover the knowledge embedded in work practices, knowledge which can then contribute to your organisation’s ‘intellectual capital’ (Garnett, 2005)
- It enables you to contribute practical outcomes to your workplace as well as gaining personal academic recognition.
- It may enable you to develop skills as a change agent within your workplace (though this may depend on the size and scope of your project). (Middlesex university 2012)
Amsby and Costley in 2000 identified that the design of workbased learning projects has to take into account a number of areas for consideration:
- Impact of your work role on your project
- Organisational context of your project
- Ways in which your project may change work practice
- Extent to which there is a ‘fit’ between your project and your area of work
- Knowledge your project draws on (such as a specific area of professional knowledge, or a particular community of practice or practitioners)
- Types of collaboration or transdisciplinary working that may be required
- Ethical considerations
- Appropriate methods of inquiry
- What the end product of your project will be.
Work-based projects are about bringing change into a workplace. Within the process of wbl, projects have a beginning and an end, and times of development and growth and times of quietness. There are distinct stages of planning, implementing, monitoring and reviewing in the project process. You will engage with these as you undertake your WBS project – and when you write your project report. These stages can overlap, and sometimes you will be very busy and other times activity will be less. Because your project is occurring in your workplace, the environment and therefore the need for the project, the nature of the project and the project itself as you are in it can change and need to evolve. This is an aspect of workbased projects that needs to be understood and accepted. This likelihood of change is something you will need to factor in to your design and development.
The size of your project will be influenced somewhat by the credit value you are seeking. It might be worth remembering also that some projects might not start at the start, particularly if they come from a piece of development already underway. You might also propose to present for assessment prior to the completion of the full project, because that might have a longer life cycle than you can structure into your learning agreement. This is quite acceptable, but you must ensure that you have still some practical outcome and that you have undertaken the learning and can articulate and reflect on this.