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Work-based Learning: Supporting Learner Autonomy for Work Readiness

Meaningful learning is often viewed as industry-relevant learning. But how do teachers script engaging learning processes that support development of agency?

Based on cases from Finland and Denmark, we study teacher and learner strategies in creative problem solving (CPS).  CPS has been a highlighted issue in education, reflected in the European Commission’s strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (known as ‘ET 2020’[1]).

In specific, the study aims at exploring how teachers and learners determine the right problem to solve and how to solve it. Inspired by a design thinking process (e.g. Brown, 2008; Design Council, 2019; IDEO, 2012), the focus is on emphasizing with customer needs, defining a problem and ideating to solve the problem.

Hence, the notion of meaningful learning is studied from the perspective of how teachers and learners co-create a learning processes that aim at supporting better understanding of the needs of the customer and strategies for solving their problems.

The project draws upon existing state-of-the-art research in education, such as Hesse et al.’s framework for teachable collaborative problem solving skills ( 2015), Tynjälä et al.’s model of integrative pedagogy (2016) and work-based learning (e.g. Kis, 2016; Lemanski & Overton, 2016; Siebert, Mills, & Tuff, 2009)

The study aims to answer the following (Research Questions):

  • How do teachers script engaging learning processes that support development of learner autonomy and agency?
  • What constitutes an industry-relevant learning process?
  • Can student work readiness be improved by supporting learner autonomy and agency?
[1] Council conclusions of 12 May 2009 on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (‘ET 2020’) – details available at http://ec.europa.eu/education/policy/strategic-framework_en


Brown, T. (2008). Design thinking. Harvard Business Review, 86(6), 84–92.

Design Council. (2019). The Design Process: What is the Double Diamond? Retrieved August 14, 2019, from https://www.designcouncil.org.uk/news-opinion/design-process-what-double-diamond

Hesse, F., Care, E., Buder, J., Sassenberg, K., & Griffin, P. (2015). A Framework for Teachable Collaborative Problem Solving Skills. In P. Griffin & E. Care (Eds.), Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills: Educational Assessment in an Information Age (pp. 37–56). Dordrecht: Springer Science+Business Media.

IDEO. (2012). Design Thinking for Educators (2nd ed.). Retrieved from http://designthinkingforeducators.com/

Kis, V. (2016). Work, train, win: work-based learning design and management for productivity. OECD Education Working Papers, 30pp.

Lemanski, T., & Overton, T. (2016). The development of mapping tool for work-based learning activities. Higher Education, Skills and Work – Based Learning, 6(3), 277–287.

Siebert, S., Mills, V., & Tuff, C. (2009). Pedagogy of work-based learning: the role of the learning group. Journal of Workplace Learning, 21(6), 443–454.

Tynjälä, P., Virtanen, A., Klemola, U., Kostiainen, E., & Rasku-Puttonen, H. (2016). Developing social competence and other generic skills in teacher education: applying the model of integrative pedagogy. European Journal of Teacher Education, 39(3), 368–387.