INNOVATION IN WORK-BASED DOCTORAL LEARNING: INITIAL FINDINGS AND OBSERVATIONS FROM THE PRINCE OF WALES INNOVATION SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAMME AND ITS NEW PEDAGOGIES
University of Wales (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:Work based PhD placements are not new, but they are not common in the UK. Pedagogic research into the real-life effects of work based doctoral learning requires large enough cohorts to make useful assessments and the Prince of Wales Innovation Scholarship (POWIS) programme offers a unique on-going opportunity to do so in the UK context. The POWIS programme is also an interesting test subject as the programme is in early stages and is able to take on board recommendations and to improve its methods.
The POWIS programme began in 2009 and is considered innovative in its own right in that it places PhD scholars full time in private companies for the duration of their studies to invent, investigate or develop intellectual property on behalf of the host company. Scholars are able to access the resources of both the company and the university as well as project management support and coordination from experienced staff at the University of Wales that have undertaken PhDs through work placement themselves.
The programme was initially set up by the University of Wales in response to a failure by universities to collaborate effectively with private companies in Wales. Research undertaken between 2007 and 2009 confirmed that the PhD placement model could overcome many of the problems previously experienced with academic-industry collaboration. At the time the pedagogy behind this model was not well understood but was considered to be suitable, practical and that positive quality results could be achievable using existing best practice methods experienced by programme staff prior to the programme being designed.
Since 2009 the programme has placed 31 scholars and they have already been responsible for innovations in the companies where they are placed. Interestingly the pedagogic model involved has also had benefits as it appears to be able to overcome some of the barriers to structuring learning, inspiring idea generation, improving critical thinking and thesis completion that are experienced in the traditional PhD model.
The paper outlines initial observations and feedback from the programme participants that suggest positive results for student motivation, depth of learning and student engagement as well as some major improvements on the traditional doctoral study pedagogy in the UK. The research also raises questions on how the private sector input may bias or otherwise influence academic rigour, and if it does, how this may have an impact on the quality of research degrees offered in this way.
Keywords: Work-based learning, placement, doctoral, research, innovation, pedagogy.