World of Work

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General

The basic assumption for teaching in school is that it adequately prepares students for their future work.

Current study 2013-2014 (Mascil)

This current study aims to give in insight in the definition given to the World of Work by the members of the Mascil project.

Thoughts from UK (20130306, Geoff Wake, Malcolm Swan and Len Newton): World of work can work out in different ways

  1. Students work on tasks that are set in vocational contexts. The context is prominent and gives insight into a particular world of work.
  2. Students work in ways that develop competencies that have utility and purpose (Ainley, Pratt and Hansen, 2006) in the same way that they might in workplace activity in other words they may thought to have a role that reflects that of a worker
  3. Students work on tasks that develop practices that are of value across workplaces (for example graphing, working with spreadsheet algebra, developing measures....) (Roth and McGinn, 1997; Wake, under review)

Thoughts from NL (20130306, Michiel Doorman, Monica Wijers, Jurg van der Vlies and Vincent Jonker).

  1. The task is meaningful for students. This is not fully elaborated and meaningfulness could be seen in multiple perspectives: (1) from a teachers perspective, a teacher teaching students things that are meaningful for the future career of the student according to the teacher and (2) from the perspective of the student, students are able to solve problem in a way which they think is meaningful for their learning.
  2. Tasks given to students correlate to the visual World of Work (Policeman) or are recognizable as the World of Work which students might know.
  3. There is a clear relation between mathematics and mathematics in the workplace, which is twofold: (1) aiming students to understand the underlying phenomenon or concept and (2) challenging students into mathematical reasoning.
  4. Tasks are real or at least comparable to tasks carried out in the workplace. E.g. mirroring a architect by doing comparable tasks
  5. Tasks in a world-of-work setting are accompanied with possibilities to transfer the involved knowledge and skills to other situations.
  6. The posed problem relates to a problem which is likely to occur in the everyday workplace and aims to improve the existing way of working.

diagram_mascil_en.jpg

reference: Mascil Diagram


Background

Technology, organizations and occupation change rapidly and influences the emphasis of student education. Students must be prepared to 'navigate unpredictable and precarious career trajectories' (Csikszentmihalyi & Schneider, 2000). International Labour Office (ILO) shows a substantial rise of youth unemployment aged 15 - 24 (ILO, 2012). This rise has increased rapidly over the last 5 years and is a strange phenomenon while youthful workers are usually easier to find and work at lower costs.

Dissatisfaction has risen from the occupational field caused by the way of teaching students in schools and the tasks they need to fulfill during their daily work. Organizations felt a lack of conformity between what is taught in school and what the daily job asks from students. In order to address this shortfall and to create a better relation between the world of work and education Competency-based learning is designed. Competency-based learning aims to integrate knowledge, attitudes and skills (Cheetham & Chivers 1996). This study of the World of Work doesn't necessary concern Competency-Based Curriculum, but tries to broaden the view on World of Work. A Competency-Based Curriculum tries to align school learning and the World of Work.

The world of work has changed during the last the decades. Earlier times asked for children which would follow in the footsteps of their father and 'simply' do so by engaging into the same activities he does (gathering food, hunting, making a fire etc.). Nowadays students aren't really sure what work their parents do, the activities aren't predictable, and this leads to an all-round confusion of what to do when they grow up (Csikszentmihalyi & Schneider, 2000).

World of Work describes the relation an actual activity has with daily work in this profession. The education of today should consider the work of tomorrow, which might be a particular hard because of the rapid changes in the work field and expected behavior of students. Knowledge and skills have always been changing due to the effects of time. For instance blacksmithing has been an important field of labour, but when auto-mobiles became the favoured way of transportation this labour disappears and a lot of knowledge and skills are lost over time. In order to prepare student for the work of work a continuous communication between education and work field is needed (Teichler, 1999). Not only need activities to be related to the world of work, but also assessment should relate to the world of work.

In this all there are two main factors distinguishable, firstly knowledge and secondly skill. There seems to be an ongoing discussion whether one of these should favor the other, and no clear answers can be given. Knowledge is seen as the key to economic wealth, social well-being and innovation (Teichler, 1999) whereas skills fulfill the job requirements and allow a student to perform the given task (Teichler, 1999). There is an ongoing tension between these two and which one should be highlighted. These are questions mainly formulated from the educational field and another distinction should be made; personal. How does education motivate student for their future job. This motivation should be both intrinsic as well as extrinsic. Intrinsic means in this case the personal enjoyment and fulfillment a job gives and extrinsic in what is rewards the worker with (Csikszentmihalyi & Schneider, Ed. 2000). In their book Csikszentmihalyi & Schneider (Ed. 2000) show an overview of research which points out enjoyment when there is a match between the level of skills needed for a job and the level of challenge a job offers.

Overall researchers conclude that graduates are expected to (Teichler, 1999 p299):

  • be flexible
  • be able and willing to contribute to innovation and be creative;
  • be able to cope with uncertainties;
  • be interested in and prepared for life-long learning;
  • have acquired social sensitivity and communicative skills;
  • be able to work in teams;
  • be willing to take on responsibilities;
  • become entrepreneurial;
  • prepare themselves for the internationalization of the labour market through an understanding of various cultures;
  • be versatile in generic skills which cut across diĀ€erent disciplines, and be literate in areas of knowledge which form the basis for various professional skills, for example in new technologies.

Next to these skills there is a search between 'generalist versus specialist'. Should student acquire a more general knowledge or specific knowledge needed in a specific area of work. A clear statement derives from Dr. Dick (1995) "The orthopaedic surgeon of the future must be a generalist first and sub-specialist second. The reason is simple, that is what the managed care marketplace demands". Workers are worried that they might become over specialized and know that this could be risky. That's why they are trying to broaden their view and make a wide portfolio in order to have more career opportunities.

Due to a quick changing world of work specific knowledge is vulnerable and therefore general knowledge might be preferred. But on the other hand are organizations demanding for specific knowledge. This ongoing discussion leaves the educational system with some big questions which can't be answered easily.


References

Versions of this document

  • 20140511, update after mascil meeting in innsbruck
  • 20130307, update: jurg van der vlies, michiel doorman, monica wijers, vincent jonker
  • 20130215, wikiteam
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