New Toolkit For Work-Based Learning

The findings of a UK-wide four year research project to help health care employers get the most out of work-based practice learning have been unveiled by the University of Ulster.

UU was lead partner in the Making Practice Based Learning Work (MPBLW) research project, which was conducted in collaboration with Northumbria and Bournemouth universities. It is anticipated that the model and toolkit developed by MPBLW will set the agenda for the training of health care professionals throughout the UK and in the Republic of Ireland.

Interactive learning materials developed by the research team will help health care practitioners support and supervise students in the workplace more effectively.

Project Director, Joan Mulholland of Faculty of Life & Health Sciences at UU’s Jordanstown campus, said: “With practice education central to the professional training of health care professionals, it is essential that practitioners are well prepared and supported in their roles as practice educators, although it would appear that the nature of support and preparation varies across disciplines and that good practice is not easily shared.”

While the disciplines involved in the research project were Dietetics, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Radiography, and Nursing, Mrs Mulholland explained said that the outcomes will be relevant to any other area of learning where theory was integrated with practice-based learning.

“This project was to promote practitioner effectiveness at supporting and supervising students in the workplace across a range of healthcare disciplines,” she said. “The project was developed in three phases: initially to identify and document good practice on preparing practitioners for their educational role; secondly to develop and evaluate learning materials for practitioners; and finally to disseminate the learning materials across health and social care communities.”

The suite of learning tools – which will also be of value to anyone involved in work-based leanring , whether as placement supervisor or learner, was welcomed by Andrew McCormick, Permanent Secretary of the DHSSPS at the Stormont launch:

“I am pleased that this excellent work, developed in a healthcare setting, can be used as a benchmark and shared with new partners who provide work-based education outside the social and healthcare sector. This exciting project encapulates for me everything we’re trying to achieve in personal health and social care.”

The project was awarded a grant of £250,000 from the Department of Employment and Learning (Northern Ireland) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England. A further £25,000 was allocated to develop learning materials for use in non-health and social care disciplines, for example Engineering.

Professor Bill Clarke, Provost of the University of Ulster’s Jordasntown and Belfast campuses, said: “This innovative project has developed new teaching materials which will be a valuable resource to all those engaged in work-based learning . It has also been identified the key issues involved, and clarified the key role of the supervisor in the learning process.”