Work-based learning

In the 1990’s the British government invested a lot of political energy and cash in encouraging forms of teaching and assessment that would encourage stronger links between ‘academic’ study and the forms of understanding that arise from the experience of work. At one level this took the form of describing courses of study in terms of ‘competences’, so that the ‘competences’ arising from work experience could be placed alongside the ‘competences’ arising from classroom teaching and learning.

The first courses to be described in competence terms were those preparing students for so-called ‘manual’ trades such as hairdressing, but the question arose: could competence-based courses be devised for degree-level work, i.e. in professional education.

Together with social work colleagues at Anglia Ruskin University (then called Anglia Polytechnic University) I was involved in the first attempt to do this, i.e. devise ways of presenting and teaching a course that would both be clearly at ‘degree level’ and at the same time give credit for skills and understandings displayed in the work-place. This was a major government funded project over several years, called the ASSET Programme (i.e. Accrediting Social Services Experience and Training).

The work of the project was reported in the book Professional Competence and Higher Education: The ASSET Programme, Falmer Press, 1996, written together with Maire Maisch, the co-leader of the project.

Two key chapters of this book may be down-loaded. Click on the attachments at the bottom of this page.
• ASSET Book, Chapter Four: ‘A General Model of Professional Learning’
(Examines the ASSET model of assessment in relation to a general theory of professional work)
• ASSET Book: Chapter Eight: ‘The Organizational / Employment Context – An Educative Workplace?’
(Discusses how far the constraints of an organizational workplace are compatible with genuinely ‘educational’ processes.)
• ASSET Book Bibliography
(Available so that references in the book chapters may be followed up)

For another important analysis of the work, click on:

• ‘The Assessment of Professional Competences; The Importance of General Criteria’
(Explains in detail how the ASSET model of assessment combined specific and general forms of competence statement)

There were also of course a number of other interim papers, conference reports, and articles (included on the publications page). See in particular:

1992: ‘ “Quality Management” or “The Educative Workplace: Alternative Versions of
Competence-based Education’
1996: ‘The ASSET Programme: The Development of a Competence-based Honours