Teaching and Learning Forum 95 [ Contents ]

Keynote address by

Gus Pennington
UK Universities' and Colleges' Staff Development Agency

In the United Kingdom major changes have been made in the higher education system in the hope of improving the nation's economic condition. New links have been made between education, employment and training at a governmental level. There has been increased emphasis on the ideas of 'quality', 'skills', 'enterprise', 'active', and 'life long learning', and 'a better educated workforce'.

The Enterprise in Higher Education (EHE) was a national initiative from the Employment Department to explore some of these ideas. It aimed to have sector wide impact and cause institution wide change and was to affect all students on all courses taught. There was to be a fundamental change in the curriculum in the areas of content, assessment, delivery and outcomes. The initiative was about developing 'enterprising students' who were:

These features were to be developed and assessed alongside the specialist understandings and skills of courses.

A senior academic was appointed to lead the initiative within an institution and that person became a member of key committees. After widespread briefings and debate a clear programme, with achievable targets and local ownership, was defined. The programme was aligned with existing procedures for quality assurance, course validation and review and staff, curriculum and educational development. Some of the programmes which developed as the vision became a reality were:

It was found that as there is a change from a teacher-centred approach to a more student-centred approach to active learning the following are likely to occur: The personal transferable skills include; According to Noel Entwhistle (1994) "Skills are the prerequisite of putting thought into action". There was some debate among academic staff about whether these skills should be 'taught' in higher education and, if they were, whether they should be included as part of the existing course and assessed.

As part of the EHE initiative, students were involved in 'live' projects. These projects provided an opportunity for the students to apply their knowledge in a real setting, develop personal and transferable skills and deliver a product or service to a specified brief. Some examples of 'live' projects were:

Some of the issues raised during the live projects included: In terms of the curriculum EHE has achieved: The gains for staff included: The message from the case study was generally positive and academic staff welcomed the identification of a congruence between their own goals as educators (the development of 'deep' learning) and the desires of employers for graduates with both well founded specialist knowledge and increased personal transferable skills.

Please cite as: Pennington, G. (1995). Keynote address. In Summers, L. (Ed), A Focus on Learning, p ix-xi. Proceedings of the 4th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, Edith Cowan University, February 1995. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf1995/pennington.html

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