The role of HE in professional development: some reflections on a foundation degree for teaching assistants

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Abstract

Rapid change in higher education (HE) has led to a reappraisal and debate about the role and ‘mission’ of the university and the university teacher. In the diversification of the HE sector, it is possible to see a shift away from the ‘advancement of knowledge’ as the primary purpose of the HE sector as a whole. This article focuses on a particular dimension of this change referred to as the ‘vocationalisation’ of HE and evident in the growing role of work-based learning (WBL) in the academy. In particular, foundation degrees provide a context for examining the role of WBL and the university in professional development. Analysis of interviews with 19 students on, or progressing from a foundation degree for teaching assistants reveals how they construct their learning and the relationship between work-based and academic learning. The author concludes that notions of ‘equivalence’ between work-based and academic learning are flawed and fail to recognise HE’s distinctive contribution to professional learning, and argues for recognition of the distinctive contributions that both WBL and ‘academic’ learning make to professional development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-322
Number of pages12
JournalTeaching in Higher Education
Volume15
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2010

Keywords

  • professional development
  • vocational higher education
  • work-based learning
  • teaching assistants

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