Presentation Details

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Eleventh International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning

Fostering Autonomy Through Work-Based Experiences: Challenges for University Educators and Students

Professor Sue Clegg, Dr Elizabeth Lawrence, Dr Karen Smith, Dr Malcolm Todd.

Increasing recognition of the importance of work in relation to university and the multidimensional aspect of the changes in support for the growing number of students who are having to work throughout their studies has led university educators to use work experience, broadly conceived, to enhance student learning. This paper presents a UK-context case study of the introduction of such Work-Based Experience modules within a Social Science degree programme which had, amongst its pedagogical intentions, the desire to encourage students to become autonomous learners and deepen learning by placing personal experience within a social context and a theoretical framework. The paper draws on primary data from interviews with students who took the modules, staff who led them, and the reflective elements of the students' assignments used to accredit the modules. It discusses some of the complexities of making tacit experience explicit and the difficulties that autonomy presents students even when they are supported. The paper focuses on the themes of Autonomy and Uncertainty; Supported Autonomy; and Identity and Autonomy. The paper ends with reflections on the pedagogical implications of the research for practitioners and concludes that, while the expectation is that universities and the workplace be linked more closely, the pedagogical issues associated with practice are more complex than is sometimes assumed.


Professor Sue Clegg  (United Kingdom)
Head of Research
Learning and Teaching Institute
Sheffield Hallam University

Dr Elizabeth Lawrence  (United Kingdom)

Sheffield Hallam University

Dr Karen Smith  (United Kingdom)

Sheffield Halam University

Dr Malcolm Todd  (United Kingdom)

Sheffield Hallam University

  • Work-Based Experiences
  • Autonomous Learners
  • The University and Changing Sites of Learning
  • Case Study

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)