Developing professional competence through problem-based learning: an action research approach

Mullin, T., 2000. Developing professional competence through problem-based learning: an action research approach. EdD, Nottingham Trent University.

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A problem-based approach to learning (PBL) aims to foster an enthusiasm for lifelong learning. The comer stone of the approach rests with the presentation of issues that stimulate students' quest for discovery.

This Doctorate journey took an action research approach to explore the experiences of a small group of mixed-ability, work-based students following a PBL programme. The research initially stemmed from a genuine desire to improve the teaching in National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) and Key Skills for Modern Apprentice (MA) hairdressers. The author was concerned that a focus on competence-based education and training (CBET) was stifling professional workplace competence. The action research cycles were structured around a set of client case studies. Each cycle was designed to include a range of PBL activities. Content analysis was employed to capture themed data and triangulation was used to validate the participants' experience of PBL.

These research findings show that this application of PBL supported the active participation of all learners and tutors. PBL facilitated the natural integration of course 'theory' and development of Key Skills. The role of the facilitator was crucial in gaining maximum benefit from the approach. Reflexivity and responsiveness to the needs and wishes of individuals and the group were an important hallmark of a skilled facilitator. Expert subject knowledge was also perceived by the facilitator to be advantageous in this context. Students experiencing learning difficulties were able to fully participate in the PBL activities with additional support from the facilitator. The shift to student- centered learning in PBL with an increased workload was not valued by the work-based participants and was perceived to be de-motivational. It was noted that PBL was strongly influenced by group dynamics, seating arrangements, the learning style of the students and their view of knowledge.

The author proposes that a PBL approach can contribute to the development of professional competency. Furthermore, it possesses the potential to address the imbalance in developing professionally valued competence brought about by a focus on achievement of CBET outcome statements.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Mullin, T.
Date: 2000
ISBN: 9781369315813
Divisions: Schools > School of Education
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 22 Sep 2020 10:11
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2023 10:06

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