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Learning Skills and Careers Through Work-Based Learning

A presentation summary of chapter 6 in the book, Working Knowledge: Work-Based Learning an Education Reform.

Beth Arledge

on 18 July 2010

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Transcript of Learning Skills and Careers Through Work-Based Learning

What are the major
benefits of work-based
learning, as it applies
to students? Acquire Skills
Career Options What are skills? "discrete capacities, acquired and possessed by individuals, enabling them to perform various manual, intellectual, or social tasks." seems "intuitively defensible"
apprentice cabinet maker assembles a chest of drawers
veterinary aide tests a canine fecal sample
accounting intern calculates cash-flow totals overview Conceptions of Skill and Expertise
~workplace skills
~alternative perceptions
Looking at the Cases
Learning About Careers
~what a student should know
~how to make a wise career choice
~transfer of skills
~field data context-specific vs. transferable applies only to that particular job
perhaps not necessary to teach (???)
ex. learning a very specific machine can apply in multiple work environments
perhaps best taught in the classroom (???)
ex. learning to answer the phone *Workplace Skills SCANS (1991) Fundamental Skills
Basic Skills
Thinking Skills
Personal Qualities
Workplace Competencies
Technology Performance
Standards (1997) Applied Learning - connects student
learning to the demands of the workplace.
Problem Solving
Communication Tools & Techniques
Information Tools & Techniques
Learning & Self-Management
Tools & Techniques
Tools & Techniques for Working
with Others Developed by ACT - "identifies and
measures teachable, transferable skills
that are the basis for effective
performance in the workplace."
Applied Academic Skills
People and Interpersonal Skills
Problem-Solving Skills Work Keys (1998) Work-related skills are intuitively sensible, appealing, and worthwhile. All workplace skill standards assume that skills are acquired, then possessed. Case
studies alternative theories Attewell (1990) "Like so many commonsense concepts, skill proves
on reflection to be a complex and ambiguous idea."
skills situated in specific context of use
perceived simple skill = complex performance
"generic" skills cannot be defined in the abstract "...decomposing jobs or people into constituent characteristics
that are somehow necessary for the work to be performed."
misrepresents the way work actually gets done:
~involves active construction of situations & actions
~not a clear-cut application of algorithmic procedures
~workers think problems through / improvise
~workers take organizational context into account
~not simply check items off a task list

Darrah (1994; 1996) Breiter & Scadamalia (1993)
process of performing skillful activities Expert vs. Novice
experts are faster
solve problems with fewer errors
analyze problems qualitatively
have strong self-monitoring skills expertise Expert vs. Non-Expert
expert addresses problems
non-expert follows routine
expert "pushes the envelope"
non-expert conforms The issue for the intern:
IS NOT domain-specific knowledge
IS the approach to the experience:
~ inquisitive, risk-taking (expert)
~routine, unquestioning (non-expert) How effective was the learning experience? as it relates to workplace skills
(learning & applying discrete skills)

as it relates to activity-oriented participation
(engaging in situated contexts)

as it relates to working toward expertise
(asking questions / "pushing the envelope") Involves the following:
entry requirements/process
organizational settings
working conditions
rewards (incl. compensation)
career paths/advancement opportunities
level of education
government/union regulations
degrees of autonomy/control To make a wise occupational choice:
self-awareness (aptitude, ability, interest)
knowledge of career options
capacity to reason effectively

Does work experience contribute to this?
~learn if they find the work appealing
~learn if they have a knack for it
~learn if pursuing the career is feasible
~experience limited to daily-life perspective
~conversations with colleagues/supervisors
are brief, lacking objective information Claim:
"Work-based learning provides opportunities for career exploration and planning." learning about careers conclusion Are practical skills obtained?
in some cases
all were represented at least once
Is there transfer of learning?
under certain conditions:
~learners shown how problems resemble each other
~learners' attention directed to underlying goal structure
~learning takes place in a social context
principle mechanisms of transfer:
~"low road" - exensive, varied practice leading to near
automatic use of a skill
~"high road" - deliberate, mindful extraction of a
principle What does the field data suggest?
work activities are more concerned with accomplishing organizational tasks
work activities do not encourage students to generalize the meaning of their experience
focusing attention on transfer is more likely to happen in the classroom than in the workplace
benefits of firsthand participation exceed what students experience in school
generalized knowledge of a career is more likely to happen in the classroom than in the workplace

Chapter 6:
Learning skills and careers
through work-based learning. Beth Arledge
Matt Kamm The Dr. Z Challenge:

use the career exploration ideas in the section “Learning About Careers” to develop questions for students to help them reflect on their internship experience at its conclusion.
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