Home' InDaily : July 29th 2010 Contents Vol21No6July2010|5
Working to learn, learning to work at Flinders
Flinders University is on track to meet its
goal of providing work integrated learning
(WIL) opportunities for the majority of
A 2007 audit of WIL programs conducted
at the University found that over a third of
students were enrolled in topics requiring
specific practicum, work experience or
work integrated learning placements, and
also identified a similar percentage of
academic and general staff involved with
the co-ordination, management,
supervision and teaching of WIL activities.
That report instigated the inclusion of
simulated workplace settings on campus
and assessment activities designed to
simulate authentic workplace activities
Professor Lesley Cooper, Associate Professor
Janice Orrell and Margaret Bowden --
all of whom were involved in the formative
phases of WIL at Flinders -- have now
published Work Integrated Learning:
A Guide to Effective Practice for the
The book, based on the authors' extensive
research and practice at Flinders and
elsewhere, including Canada and New
Zealand, caters for Deputy Vice-Chancellors
responsible for WIL, program managers,
supervisors, VET sector,
students and employers.
Associate Professor Orrell
said that while
government calls for
suitable mechanisms to
administer WIL remains
a critical issue.
industry often focus solely
Mr Peter Nielsen
Engineering student Michael Brown enjoyed WIL
A new approach to language learning that
aims to improve literacy outcomes across
languages by integrating foreign languages
into daily classroom activities is currently
being trialled in 11 primary schools across
A joint initiative of Flinders University's
School of Education and the State
Government's Department of Education and
Children's Services (DECS), the two-year
professional learning program is based on a
successful pilot project and the latest
international research which indicates the
way literacy is developed follows a
predictable pattern across all languages.
Program leader and Flinders PhD candidate,
Peter Nielsen said the trial involves 21
classroom and foreign language teachers
working with students from Reception to
Year 2 in the first year of the project.
"The classroom teacher and foreign
language teachers collaboratively plan for
literacy development both within and
between the languages -- whether it's
Taking a multilingual approach to literacy
English, Italian, French, German, Japanese
or Indonesian -- and include these
languages in the students' daily activities,"
Mr Nielsen said.
"For example, students can now have
phonics-based spelling programs in both
languages rather than just English," he said.
"Once students have learned to write the
English alphabet, that skill is then available
for writing all other Roman-based
alphabets. Once students have learned the
skill of mapping a sound to a symbol on the
page, then that skill is available for use with
any other languages they intend to learn."
"This idea of universality in languages
and literacy development is supported by
neuroscience and linguistics,"
Mr Nielsen said.
"We now talk about the brain having a
common reservoir for all language and for
all literacy skills, no matter what the
language. So the learning in a foreign
language reinforces what's happening in
English, and vice-versa."
Flinders Dean of the School of Education,
Professor Bob Conway said the project "is
a great opportunity for collaboration on
action-research in schools that draws upon
the expertise of the university and DECS".
"The outcomes will provide the opportunities
for further cooperation," he said.
on 'learning to work'. Our philosophy is that
WIL should be a vehicle for learning --
working to learn, not just learning to work,"
Associate Professor Orrell said.
"There is an interplay
between theory and
practice, each informs and
shapes the other. Acting on
their new knowledge
enables students' learning."
"This book is practical. It leads the reader
from policy issues through the key
dimensions of WIL and practicalities of
learning, teaching, assessment,
supervision and management in WIL.
"It identifies the benefits and risks of WIL,
but illustrates how dynamic relationships
between universities and external
organisations, linked with research and
community service, as in the US 'service
learning' concept, can meet the needs of
Associate Professor Orrell highlighted the
importance of increased exposure for WIL.
"There's nothing more obvious,
transparent and public about the
university than its graduates," she said.
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