Work-based Learning Introduction
Work-based learning allows you to undertake a course of study and obtain a higher education degree based on your day-to-day work or part of your professional activities.
The curriculum is set by you and your organisation so that you achieve real professional development and impact in terms of organisational improvements.
PDF.Net structures work-based learning within the framework of a Masters Degree in Professional Development, accredited by Middlesex University. This enables our students to study for a range of qualifications including Post-graduate Certificate and Diploma, within a very broad range of specialisms.
To identify how this would work for you or your organisation, please contact Carole Ferro, who can arrange an appointment with a member of our senior faculty to discuss it further.
We'll try to explain how it works in practice and how it adds value to you as a professional.
Adding value to your work
The concept of the reflective practitioner draws upon the idea that our practice, as professionals, is at our most effective when we are able to understand both ourselves, (that is, the factors which drive our capacity), the context in which we work, the people we work with and the results we are trying to achieve. By critically examining and reflecting upon each of these areas and placing that analysis within the framework of sets of values, codes of conduct and changing scientific and social and political influences, we are able to develop more effective policies and practice.
This approach to self-development, which combines reflective practice and action research, contributes to both personal and organisational capability.
Understanding how you improve
In the pressure of day-to-day work, practitioners often have to focus on a single issue and “fire-fight” the symptoms of change. Development of this type is reactive and aimed at trying to solve immediate problems. In such circumstances finding time to think, let alone plan for the future, is very difficult. A further consequence is that training is often undertaken on an opportunistic basis, rather than forming part of a strategic plan for the future. The impact of such training on everyday practice may, as a result, be impaired.
An alternative approach to this situation is to ensure that professional development activity is part of the strategic plan for the organisation.
Being strategic implies:
a) Continuously expanding the capacity to create your own future through:
- not trying to solve today's problems with yesterday’s solutions;
- looking at whole situations, not just parts of problems; and
- examining causes and structures, not just symptoms.
b) Surfacing and challenging mental models and exploring the underlying perceptions which drive practice but are rarely stated:
- your own views;
- those of your colleagues; and
- the organisation’s views.
Our programmes are designed to create and develop these capabilities. It ensures that in the development of your professional practice you are able to be:
||dealing with issues as they arise
||developing policy from current practice
||identifying issues before they arise and planning the response
||expanding capacity to create the future
Our belief, based on thirty years of experience in the Foundation's professional network, is that the most effective energy for professional development comes from motivated self-development, based on self-insight. Organisation-dominated schemes, in which the individual is the passive recipient of their own development, stifle many of the qualities needed to cope with the changing world of professional practice.
You decide what you need to learn
In applying this approach to development a unique partnership between you your organisation and our university partners is created to ensure that a programme of development in which:
- you decide what you need to learn;
- negotiate with your organisation the benefits to you and them;
- write a learning plan that makes sense for you and them; and
- contract with us and the University to complete that plan and agree the final award.
In developing your plan, we support you to develop core competences in the following areas to ensure that your learning and its application to real world situations:
- demonstrates analysis and critical reflection which informs and influences practice
within your field, policy and service provision;
- demonstrates self-reflective practice in the management of yourself, others and
results of your work;
- provides evidence of a commitment to sustaining the values of professional work in
the light of continuing scientific, social and political change and be able to define
and develop policies and practices accordingly.
Our candidates learn and demonstrate through practical projects in the work place:
- critical appraisal of relevant theoretical models;
- critical appraisal of relevant policies and statue, in your chosen area, including
knowledge of local, national and UK perspectives;
- skilled use of a wide repertoire of methods and be able to select and use the most
effective approach to meeting client/consumer need for the different aspects of
- provide evidence of significant contribution to the development, delivery and
evaluation of the service provided in a chosen area by demonstrating the ability to
research, plan, implement, monitor and evaluate strategies for improvement or
- provide evidence of leadership in chosen field.
The process to get you there
Once you apply you will be assigned a learning advisor who will stay with you throughout your programme. Appropriate facilitators will also be appointed depending on the plan of learning you agree. You are supported throughout to ensure you attain the competences described in your learning plan which will form a series of modules. The submissions for each module have been designed to allow you to evidence attainment of the Learning Outcomes required on that module. Assessment will allow you to identify your progression in learning and identify where further development is necessary. You will obtain feedback from your Assessor against each of these criteria prior to formal submission of all modules thereby allowing you to progress through your programme with confidence.
What support you may need
We provide a number of different forms of learning support for our students including:
- Comprehensive manuals for each module;
- eLearning and a virtual learning environment , The Learning Net (VLE);
- Facilitated learning group (set) pursuing Enquiry Based Learning methodology;
- A Learning Advisor / Facilitator or Assessor.
Once you are accepted onto the Programme our Head of elearning, will contact you directly to provide you with the web address, username and password for our virtual learning environment, the Learning Net. He will also send you a separate manual providing step-by-step instructions on how to use this resource.
On the Learning Net you will be able to download the manuals for each of your modules and you will also find other resources such as literature and critical reviews. There is the facility to interact with other students on your programme and also you will be able to contact your Facilitator (see below) there directly, and in confidence.
If numbers allow for each programme of study students are formed into Learning Groups (Sets) of 5-8 students, facilitated by a PDF associate. The aim of the Set is to support the learning of its members by providing a safe but challenging environment to explore their practice and development. You will be informed if a learning set is active on your programme and you will be provided with an induction to the Set.
As students you will also be provided with an assessor who will be able to give you feedback on your drafts as they develop. A distinctive feature of the system is the individualised support and feedback throughout the programme in the form of face-to-face and telephone tutorials or feedback on work by email, fax or post.
Submission of draft work for feedback from your facilitator and/or assessor is the basis for the dialogue, which will develop your understanding and ability to meet programme and module learning outcomes. This approach places a high premium on the facilitation of adult learning rather than subject based teaching.
Module feedback and peer observation of teaching in tutorials confirms that facilitative teaching by facilitator is effective because it relates to the individual and his/her needs and experiences.
Producing evidence for assessment
In conjunction with your facilitator, you will plan the submission of your completed modules in relation to the agreed learning plan. You will obtain feedback on draft submissions as you develop them so you will be able to identify when a submission is ready for assessment. All submissions are via the learning Net and every submission is receipted on-line.
The assessment recommendations by the tutors are then passed to the Professional Development Assessment Board (a joint Board of PDF and IWBL). The PDF have appointed External Examiners to the Board in agreement with the University and QAA regulations. Where the award forms part of a professional development plan in accordance with CPD or upgrading requirements of a professional body, additional external examiners will be nominated by that body