Enhancing Cooperative Education Placement through the use of Learning Management System Functionalities: A Case Study of the Bachelor of Applied Management Program
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis is an exploratory case study researching the benefits of integrating information and communication technologies (ICT) in the process of cooperative education placement (CEP) learning. For the purposes of this study, CEP is defined as a working partnership between the learner-employee, the college, and the employer which enables learners to earn college credit for learning on the job. The main aims of this research were to establish: • How effective is the current ICT and teaching approaches being utilised in coordinating cooperative education learners and facilitating their learning? • What are the issues for the cooperative education learners and coordinators using Blackboard7 as an online learning and management tool? • What are the pedagogical principles that enhance cooperative education learning through the use of modern ICT? • What are the forms of ICT that could support these pedagogical principles? Two types of literature have been reviewed and analysed in this thesis. The first related to cooperative learning as it is integrated into academic study, including its historical foundation, pedagogy and delivery. The second focussed on the use of ICT in various disciplines, and the functions and tools that are successful in providing academic learning. The literature review undertaken of cooperative education placement revealed that the placement is an informal type of learning that aligns with Kolb’s theory of experiential learning. The program creates a working-learning environment which is not normally possible in a college classroom. Furthermore, the literature review examined the different learning theories with particular reference to experiential, workplace learning, and also highlighted the similarities and differences between traditional and non-traditional types of learning with a focus on relevant current research in this area. The extensive literature review found that there has been little research into the types of ICT that could benefit cooperative education learners while they are out on placements. In particular, research relevant to the use of Blackboard7 was found to be very limited. The gap in the current academic knowledge provided impetus for this thesis and findings. The research on ICT in different discipline areas supported the notion that learners will participate and engage more with the technology if they are able to acknowledge perceived ease of use, and perceived usefulness with an intention to use, as indicated in the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). The great upsurge in flexible, online and blended delivery courses has also added to the ICT options available to learners generally. However, limited previous research has suggested that the common response from the learners was that they still like some face to face delivery. That research had been confined to case studies in reference to ICT which have explored issues of learner learning, connectivity, reflection, perceptions, and optional modes of delivery. The literature review highlighted some of the gaps in current research regarding how effective the ICT is in reference to individual learning and indicates possible options to improve this situation. The literature review has supported the pedagogical principles of communities of practice, reflective practice linked to critical thinking and learning, connectivism and also the educational relevance of blended, online and flexible learning. Therefore, this study brings research in ICT and on cooperative learning together, looking at the ways ICT (and Blackboard7, in particular) can enhance learning that has occurred during cooperative placement. The participants in this research included a cohort of twenty learners in their third and final year of study in the Bachelor of Applied Management program, and their course coordinator. The cooperative education placement took place in the final semester. Data were gathered through the use of survey, interview and documentation analysis. Although, through the theoretical analysis, a close link between cooperative learning and Kolb’s theory has been identified, the findings of the research reveal that learners’ perception of this link is weak, and only some learners related to the model, and their individual learning style matched with this. Another gap occurred in the way the learners interacted with the ICT and their use of the various ICT functions, and the principles of effective learning identified in the literature. The analysis and findings also revealed a lack of ‘sense of community’ within the group. While communities of practice can be established in learning groups, this cohort did not have a sense of this. The participants indicated that there was a need for more seminars which would have brought the group together, but the lack of use of the Blackboard7 discussion boards meant that learners did not correspond with each other as a group. This translated to a general lack of connectivity in reference to the use of the ICT implemented in the cooperative education placement which this study investigated. The learners and the coordinator agreed that, currently, the technology analysed performed mainly as an information site rather than an interactive, engaging site. The findings revealed that there was also a lack of reflection, and, thus, deeper level learning which needs to be addressed. This could involve introducing online reflective journals which are a functionality of Blackboard7. Learners noted that, while the functionalities are available, explicit functionalities, such as discussion boards, were never used. This remains an issue as learners therefore do not interact or discuss any course issues with any of the other participants on the course. Implications were identified for the design, implementation and management of the Bachelor of Applied Management program in the future, to enable a more robust link between experiential learning, the use of the technology for these learners, and stimulating interaction by active involvement of supervisors and coordinator. With reference to these issues, this thesis proposes a new model of reflective learning for cooperative education learners as detailed in Figure 5.1. Kolb’s experiential learning model was the underpinning pedagogy examined in this thesis. The findings from this thesis supported an addendum to the current model of learning to include reflective practice through the functionalities of ICT. Proposed model of reflective learning for students on cooperative education placement (Figure 5.1) incorporates reflection into a three stage model, rather than provided in Kolb’s four stage model. This is primarily due to the gap identified in this research between the need for adequate reflective practice during students’ placement and the current situation. The inclusion of functionalities such as online journals, and more prominent use of discussion boards available on Blackboard7 would encourage more reflection. To achieve deeper learning participants need to be engaged in reflective practice, so there needs to be more interactive discussion online coupled with regular contact by supervisors and the coordinator through ICT to strengthen the learners’ cooperative learning experience. This would assist in supporting an environment of engagement, reflection and deeper learning...............
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Education and Professional Studies
Item Access Status
Learning Management Systems