Connecting theory and practice: Exploring the use of personal experiences in programme design

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Connections in Higher Education Vol. 35

July, 2012, 373 pages
Published by
N. Brown, S.M. Jones, & A. Adam
ISBN
0 908557 89 2
Abstract 

Anyone who has been confronted with practical programme design situations is likely to have experienced that people draw on personal experiences to inform their decisions. Is this an issue?

This paper investigates the use and role of personal experiences in programme design considerations and decision-making in the context of a polytechnic in Aotearoa/New Zealand. It explores the kinds of experiences decision-makers draw on and seeks an explanation for their application. Mapping of the experiences alongside a framework for human learning suggests that decision-makers are at different stages in their development of expertise in programme design. However, many decision-makers, and particularly people in management positions, are shown to use experiences from their own immediate context to inform their decision-making, with limited theoretical grounding or reflection on the idiosyncrasies of the situation at hand. It is argued, that such an approach is likely to continue to recreate the past and form barriers to innovation. Professional development to connect decision-makers’ practices with research and established knowledge in programme design may be a way to bring people’s expertise to the next stage.

Keywords: curriculum design, decision-making, reflective practice 

Connecting theory and practice: Exploring the use of personal experiences in programme design

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Govers, Elly