Real World Learning for the New Economy in the Knowledge Society

By Sylila Monteiro and Rashika Sharma.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Education today focuses on the “new economy” in the “knowledge society” within which the learners are the knowledge workers, real people who have already acquired knowledge and competences. Thus the learning context at the tertiary level is enriched by a range of human experiences, dispositions and worldviews of the learners. The success of future learning is therefore dependent on the engagement of the varied identities and subjectivities of learners.

Engagement produces opportunity, equity and participation to inculcate lifelong learning. Proficiency in generic skills becomes an imperative and enduring approach in education today, ensuring creative adaptability in future settings. Integration of Problem Based Learning (PBL) is central to education systems that seek to achieve this lifelong learning so essential in today’s rapidly changing technological world. PBL is a sustainable and holistic approach in teaching and learning which furthers “the living curriculum”.

As early as 1980, PBL was identified as a method of teaching and learning that results from the process of working towards the understanding or resolution of a problem (Barrows and Tamblyn, 1980 p. 18). Over the years it has become increasingly evident in the literature (Conrick, 1994; Ahlfeldt, Mehta & Sellnow, 2005) that engaging in PBL builds generic transferable skills crucial for a sustainable future. PBL helps integration of different disciplines and helps students develop a broader knowledge base (Biley & Smith, 1998).

This research paper analyses perspectives of Applied Technology undergraduate students who have engaged in PBL. The findings are evaluated against the learning outcomes to demonstrate the effectiveness of this method of teaching and learning. The results confirm that engaging in projects through problem based learning enhances team work and collaborative skills, presentation skills, problem solving skills, enquiry and research skills as well as self directed learning. PBL replicates real life “messiness” and therefore promotes real world learning.

Keywords: Problem Based Learning, Living Curriculum, Real world Learning, Core Competences

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp.149-162. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 826.758KB).

Sylila Monteiro

Lecturer, Faculty of Creative Industries and Business, UNITEC Institute of Technology, Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Sylila Monteiro teaches a wide range of communication and integrated practice papers on Certificate, Diploma and Degree programmes offered across UNITEC. She is actively involved in delivery of communication, health and safety, and sustainable practice. She previously taught communication in Zambia Institute of Technology in Kitwe, Zambia. She specialises in business document translation services for French and Portuguese organizations engaged in international communication. She also provides training for New Zealand Army personnel in Portuguese and French as preparation for overseas assignments. Her consultancy work involves Industry Training on Communication components of Management Development Programmes for Unitec Enterprise Unit. Sylila research interests include interdisciplinary integrated practice in education, intercultural communication and sustainability. She has presented her research at several conferences in New Zealand and overseas.

Rashika Sharma

Lecturer, Faculty of Technology and Built Environment, UNITEC Institute of Technology, Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Rashika is a lecturer in Integrated Practice at UNITEC New Zealand specialising in sustainable practice, societal context and generic skills on the Bachelor of Applied Technology. Rashika’s research focus is on education for sustainability and takes keen interest in student centred teaching and learning strategies. Rashika has also taught at the Fiji Institute of Technology in Suva, Fiji.


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