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Limitations of levels, learning outcomes and qualifications as drivers towards a more knowledge-based society

By Alan Brown


National (and European) qualifications frameworks, the specification of learning outcomes and grand targets like the Lisbon goals of increasing the supply of graduates in Europe in order to achieve a more knowledge-based society are all predicated upon the idea of moving people through to higher and well-defined levels of skills, knowledge and understanding. However, the work of researchers, from the UK's Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP), examining work-related learning from a number of perspectives, would suggest that the way to move towards a more knowledge-based society is for as many people as possible, whatever their supposed highest overall "level" of skills is, to believe that they should develop their skills, knowledge and competence in a number of ways unrelated to their current highest "level". This means rather than having an essentially binary conception of competence at the heart of the levels, it would be far more beneficial in inducing the frame of mind required of a knowledge-based society to have a developmental view of expertise. Such an approach can address three particular challenges that a "levels" approach finds difficult to accommodate. First, there is the issue of transfer--there would be an expectation that graduates would be some way from "experienced worker standard" when they completed their initial training. Secondly, such an approach could provide the conditions in which a commitment to continuous improvement at work could flourish, as most people would believe that they needed to develop in a number of ways (at a range of "levels") in order to improve their performance. Thirdly, this approach of continuing to expect people to continue to develop a range of skills would offer some protection against the development of "skilled incompetence" (where organisations and individuals continue to focus upon what they do well without paying due regard to the future). (Contains 3 footnotes.

Topics: HM, L1
Publisher: David Publishing Co., Inc.
Year: 2008
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