Work-based Learning: Supporting Learner Autonomy for Work Readiness

Projekttitel Work-based Learning: Supporting Learner Autonomy for Work Readiness
Projekttype Anvendt forskning og udvikling
Frascati Ja
Tema Undervisning
Teaser Meaningful learning is often viewed as industry-relevant learning. But how do teachers script engaging learning processes that support development of agency?
Status Igangværende
- Akademi Erhvervsakademi Sydvest (EASV)
- Kontaktperson Christian Dragin-Jensen
Research and Business Development Specialist, PhD
Nat./Int. Nationalt
Projektperiode 01. november 2019 - 01. november 2020
- Projektresumé

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


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

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

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.

- Baggrund og formål
  • Research project will contribute to new knowledge, adding value to EASV and other Business Academies’ educational programs. By investigating the link between work-readiness and teacher scripting for learning processes, the contribution will be giving teachers tools on how to improve (classroom) teaching for generating industrial currency.
  • As the project is ultimately geared towards providing more meaningful learning, the insight gained here will reflect the newest knowledge within education on how to provide better work-based learning, creative problem solving & design thinking, as well as collaborative problem solving skills.
  • Stakeholders in the business environment, will (in)directly gain value in receiving students with better industrial currency.

Theoretical background:

  • Collaborative and cooperative learning: referring to educational methods and environments where a group of learners engage in a common task and where each individual depends on and is accountable to each other. In addition, cooperative learning refers to a situation where individuals need to take responsibility for a specific section and then coordinate their respective parts together.
  • Situated learning: learning as participation in the social world, suggesting learning as an integral and inseparable aspect of social practice. Emphasis on the context where learning takes place and the learning affordances present in a specific context.
  • Learner agency: Learners need to develop the capacity to shape and manage their learning without over-reliance on the direction and control of others. In short, learner agency can be described as individual’s capacity to act. However, it is widely accepted that it is socioculturally, contextually and interpersonally mediated.
- Aktiviteter og handling
1)      Project planning phase

a.       Litterature Review

b.       Study and experimentation planning

2)      Project execution

a.       Two-four study programs/workshops carried out in Finland and Denmark, respectively

b.       Work on peer-reviewed journal article based on results and feedback received at conference (see 3a. for more).

3)      Project Dissemination

a.       Poster presentation at EAPRIL 2019 (The European Association for Practitioner Research on Improving Learning) conference in Tartu, Estonia (see more here)

b.       Peer-reviewed journal article

c.       Linkedin/ article

4)      Evaluation

a.       Evaluation of project with partners, and discussion if further studies are required.



- Projektets Metode

By an action research approach, we observe and interview teachers and learners on their process of meaning making in finding their strategies. The data will be collected from two-four groups of learners and their teachers in Finland and in Denmark. With table analysis, we aim to identify general and contextual factors supporting learner autonomy and agentic learning.

A primarily qualitative study, where observations are drawn from project participants, as well as continuous questions asked to the learners during the workshops and semi-structured interviews with teachers.

Each workshop contains students and at least 1 teacher from an educational organization, a case company, and 2 project participants (either from EASV or University of Turku).

- Projektets Forventede Resultater

Expected results:

  • Learners who experience co-creation and involvement in planning a learning process are likely to reach deep learning and to be motivated in their learning.
  • Teachers who engage in solving working-life oriented problems with their students are likely to develop better understanding of expectations of the labour market and to develop collaboration between stakeholders outside the educational institution.
  • In order to gain cultural and social capital to enter the labour market after graduation, students need to engage in learning in professional contexts.
  • Learning as participation in solving problems arisen from the social world may help students to transfer these qualities to new contexts later on.
- Projektets Forventede Effekt

The results from the workshops, conference participation and peer-reviewed article should aid us in the following:

  • Better understand learning as a social participation,
  • How to script specific learning processes related to work-based learning
  • Better link industrial currency to a teacher’s curriculum in order ultimately to…
  • understand and better design meaningful learning experiences
- Studerende Erhvervsakademi Sydvest (EASV) (20)
- Medarbejdere Erhvervsakademi Sydvest (EASV)
Christian Dragin-Jensen
Anders Karkov
- Virksomhedsrepræsentanter
- Andre
Partnere University of Turku
- Resultatets formidling

- Videnskabelig artikel
- Konference præsentationer

- Resultaternes værdi
- Målgruppen Undervisere, virksomhedsrepræsentanter
- Vidensprodukter Website/blog