|Module 2: The WBL process
|Introduction | Roles | Summary
WBL involves a range of roles and processes required to support the learner and manage the process from profiling through to final assessment. These roles/processes include:
Profiling may be carried out by any number of staff experienced in interviewing candidates and determining their suitability for WBL based on their workplace context, ability to undertake study at degree level and above and the appropriate qualification pathway sought.
|Enrolment, Results and Graduation Administrator
The Capable administrator is responsible for enrolling candidates, distributing feedback from various panels, tracking results and preparing documentation for graduation.
Enables and ensures the support of the learner in their progress to assessment. An inspirational role rather than an administrative role enabling the learner to develop skills of critical reflection and inquiry and provides the skills to engage with academic literacies.
Facilitators are key people in encouraging the learner to be active and motivated, able to take responsibility for themselves and able to manage the learning process.
Facilitators require a broad skill set, but within a WBL model they also need to be able to work in the space of “learner brokerage between different communities of practice” (Adams,2008), and mediate between employer and academic learning perspectives. Facilitators contribute to the development of metacognition within the learner.
Along with the Facilitator, assists the learner with learning how to learn in order to support self-directed learning, as well as providing a relationship in which to explore learning from work/practice within wider theoretical models.
Academic mentors are often the discipline specialists, but also contribute to developing metacognition within learners. The Academic Mentor may be seen more as an advisor rather than a supervisor.
|Professional Practice Mentor
The Professional Practice Mentor is critical in their role of introducing and enabling learner access into the wider community of practice. Are likely to include mentors from the workplace, but also vitally important are mentors from the wider profession or areas of practice key to the learners growing understanding. Professional mentors bring their professional practice understandings and the professional debate to enrich learner learning and enable the learner to be part of this ongoing debate.
Where role of PP mentor sourced from within the employing organisation, it is different from that of the workplace supervisor or line manager, in that the PP mentor has no vested interest in the outcomes of the inquiry project other than professional interest, while the workplace supervisor or line manager may well have different expectations and perspectives.
Ideally the Professional Practice mentor is someone with deep experience, or at least close familiarity of the learner’s workplace context and hopefully sufficient credibility and mana to be able to exert some influence within the organisation on behalf of the learner. As such they should be in a position to provide advice and support that is highly contextualised to the realities of the learner’s workplace and focus of inquiry.
In the case of someone who is self-employed, their PP mentor needs to be someone with sufficient experience, knowledge and familiarity with the learner’s context and type of enterprise to be able to offer appropriate and usable advice and coaching.
The learner’s inquiry project and role as insider researcher and agent of change is likely to create some tensions with workplace colleagues and superiors and issues of trust and confidentiality along with access to information and key stakeholders can arise. Navigating these tensions and managing the internal communications and the workplace politics is a significant aspect of the coaching and mentoring role of the PP mentor and one which is most likely to be beyond that of Facilitator and Academic Mentor. The PP mentor can also be expected to advocate for the learner where the previously mentioned tensions result in the creation of barriers and impediments to the success of the inquiry project.
|Learning Agreement Approval Panel
All learning agreements are submitted to and are approved by the Learning Agreements Approval Committee, a subcommittee of Academic Board. This panel ensures academic quality and consistency of learning agreements and their proposed outcomes.
|Ethics Approval Committee
In some cases where research respondent sensitivities and/or vulnerabilities may be involved approval from the Ethics Approval Committee must be sought. In other cases the standard devolved School based ethics approval process should suffice.
|Subject Specialist Assessor
The subject specialist assessor – has knowledge usually of subject area, often experience in taught programme, brings specific academic content knowledge. They are expected to develop understanding of workplace contexts and the value of learning in the workplace.
|Professional Practitioner Assessor
The Professional Practitioner Assessor brings significant professional experience, practitioner based specialist knowledge and workplace perspectives. They are expected to develop the ability to align the language of work with the language of academic assessment.
|Assessment Panel Chair
The assessment panel chair is generally a senior leading academic from the Polytechnic, with a wide range of understandings and knowledge about authentic assessment practices and experience with assessment of prior learning and work-based learning assessment practices.