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Investigating the Professional Context (20 credits level HE4)

This module will introduce you to work-place learning and personal development planning (PDP). You will clarify your role in the workplace and identify foci for professional development that will enable you to become an increasingly effective practitioner. This will be based upon professional standards or requirements that you identify as being relevant to you and your work.

20 credits at level HE4


Central to a work-based approach to learning is the ability to combine studies with authentic tasks and opportunities for learning that are a part of your daily work. This will enable you to plan inquiries that meet module requirements and also have a positive impact upon your workplace.

This approach to learning also has collaboration at its heart. To his end, you will be required to actively participate in an online community of inquiry where you will be required to regularly share plans, ideas and findings for receiving and offering critical feedback.

You will be introduced to basic research skills including data collection, analysis and evaluation. You will start to develop your ability to work and learn as a critically reflective practitioner and to communicate ideas effectively to different audiences.

As you develop your PDP, you will begin the process of you developing the habits of an effective lifelong learner.


Content will be largely determined by the student researcher when relating their focus for inquiry in the work-context to the intended learning outcomes for the module. It is expected that this content will be inter-disciplinary in nature and draw on academic and professional sources including work-colleagues and online community experience and know-how. In addition, specific topics common to the professional theme of the course and other topics relating to the knowledge about action inquiry will be identified and supported by experts participating in hot-seat discussions, where student researchers ask questions and experts respond.

All resources required for the delivery of the module will be available online. In addition, learners will identify resources in the workplace, in libraries, and online that is relevant to their own inquiry.

This module will include basic research skills and an introduction to personal development planning.


Learning will be supported through an online community of inquiry where student researchers, course staff and invited ‘experts’ will engage in discussions, debates and group activities to explore key concepts, ideas, relevant topics and offer moral support.

Student researchers are expected to develop study habits which enable learning and contribute to assessment through:
• personal reflection in a learning log;
• regular participation in the online community and 
• creative reporting to form a 'patchwork' for assessment.

Student researchers will:
• identify a focus for their inquiry around issues or opportunities to take action for improvement that they have identified in their work practice;
• plan an inquiry with learning activities that address each of the intended learning outcomes of the module;
• undertake their inquiry and share selected parts with student researchers for critical feedback;
• for each learning activity, create a product for assessment in the student researcher' choice of genre and media;
• evaluate the inquiry;
Learning facilitators will:
• promote community discussion on potential focii for inquiry;
• privately agree student researcher commitment to inquiry proposals;
• draw out issues arising in inquiries for community discussion;
• model critical feedback in the online community;
• make summative assessment of student researchers' work, noting strong points and points to consider with targets for improvement.

Assessment will be through an e-portfolio of work which will address each of the learning outcomes. It will include a summative commentary identifying the individual student researchers learning in relation to the intended learning outcomes for the module in a coherent account of their learning journey.


 Learning Outcomes
when you have successfully completed this module you will:
Assessment Criteria
to demonstrate that you have achieved the learning outcome you will:
1. Systematically identify the main features of your work-role within your work-place Explain the significant aspects of your work setting, including responsibilities, relationships and activities, saying why they are important
2. Work with other student researchers to develop an outline of the professional requirements including knowledge and skills for you to become an effective practitioner Identify the professional contexts and disciplinary areas relevant to your work by researching information sources and with reference to your discussion with other student researchers
3. Describe your relative strengths and weaknesses in relation to your work role and professional requirements Communicate your knowledge, skills, and qualifications and produce a prioritised list of personal development goals with a justification for each of the goals
4. Develop a personal development plan (PDP) integrating learning opportunities in the work-place with future module requirements Identify opportunities for your professional development in your work-place linked to the personal development goals you have listed


Your achievement of the learning outcomes for this module will be tested as follows:

Patchwork media: an assessment e-portfolio of learning activities with a summative commentary identifying learning achieved related to intended learning outcomes.


  • Anne Munro, Helen Rainbird, Alison Fuller (Editor) (2004) Workplace Learning in Context: Routledge
  • Stella Cottrell (2003) Skills for Success: The Personal Development Planning Handbook Palgrave: Macmillan
  • Bill Lucas (2001) Power Up Your Mind: Learn Faster, Work Smarter: Nicholas Brealey Publishing
  • Tracy Bowell (Editor) (2004) Critical Thinking: A Concise Guide, Second Edition: Routledge
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