Practice-based learning


Introduction

The University of South Australia distinguishes itself from other universities on the basis of the types of programs and graduates it provides. In a transparent way our programs are linked to professional outcomes and are designed to meet defined industry and community needs for skilled professionals.

To maintain this authenticity within our programs and provide industry and the community the graduates it needs, UniSA utilises practice-based learning. Practice-based learning is about making the learning environment as realistic as possible and requires students to demonstrate what they know linking theory and practice. This is the central means by which the students of the University of South Australia Experience. The difference. 

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What is practice-based learning?

Practice based learning at the University of South Australia is a type of experiential learning - a key strategy for engaging students in their learning. Practice-based learning has several distinct forms, including but not limited to; 

  • student experience in workplace learning.
  • actively embedding industry input into programs
  • supporting students develop career management skills - career management skills are an integral part of developing student employability. You can work with the Career Services team and an Academic Developer to integrate skills such as career decision-making, job-seeking and writing applications in to the curriculum of your course or program. This may involve further development of existing content, the development of specific material for your discipline, or the use of the modular program, Career Management Skills@ UniSA.
  • supporting students to develop skills to work professionally with their discipline's knowledge as part of the curriculum. Content knowledge is not everything in the workplace - our graduates need to be able to apply this knowledge in trans-disciplinary contexts to be successful at work. They need to be able to apply knowledge to solve workplace-relevant problems in ethical ways. They need to be able to communicate with diverse audiences (fellow workers, non-professionals, allied professionals, the community) about their discipline. Content knowledge also dates - so our graduates need to leave UniSA with the skills and attitude to stay up-to-date with developments in their profession. As part of the curriculum of each UniSA program there are opportunities for students to develop these skills.
  • supporting staff experience in the workplace
  • laboratory experiences

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Indicators of practice-based learning:

  • students are learning in the workplace in either paid or unpaid positions
  • students are learning through participation in industry-based tasks and/or projects as part of the curriculum
  • students are learning about skills for career management as part of their curriculum
  • students are learning through activities in class time that emulate activities undertaken by a professional (e.g. laboratories have appropriate standards of dress, safety procedures, standard operating procedures, quality control)
  • students are learning skills in using software tools that are identical to that used by practicing professionals
  • students are learning through simulations of workplace environments as part of their curriculum
  • students are assessed and given feedback on Graduate Qualities indicators that have been mapped on to professional competencies
  • academic staff teaching in the course are practicing professionals with opportunities to share their experiences during classes students are able to connect with their professional body - and their ethics; code of conduct - as part of curriculum activities

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Further resources

literature review of learning in the workplace by Shay Keating at Victoria University is available.