There is real value in practice based learning in all qualifications in higher education. The real challenge is to ensure the courses are well designed and fit elegantly within the programme of study. When I say “elegantly” I am talking about the courses being an elegant solution, as described by Matthew May in In Pursuit of Elegance. He talks about combining unusual simplicity and surprising power.
To Matthew elegance is characterized by four key elements—seduction, subtraction, symmetry, and sustainability. An elegant practice based learning course is seductive, and engaging to students, teachers, and hosts. It has subtraction, there is space for the student to learn and grow, not every element of learning is pre-determined, there is room for chance and growth. The course is symmetrical and fits neatly within the overall programme of study, and it balances the acquisition and practice of knowledge, skills and values. Finally the course is sustainable, it has the funding, the commitment and the champions to ensure long term success.
To find out more about practice based learning courses, take a look at Making the Most of Work Integrated Learning with Dr Andy Martin. He provides a set of downloadable resources to guide and support you in developing and maintaining a practice based learning course.