Forget about all the electronic communication tools modern society uses, the old fashioned face-to-face meeting produces the best results.
Or at least that is the case when trying to engage students concerning their attitude to work experience and lifelong learning according to Dr Sue Bandaranaike.
A social demographer at James Cook University, Dr Bandaranaike will be presenting her findings to an international conference on “Cooperative and Work Integrated Education” in Philadelphia in the United States next week.
“In our contemporary society Dialogue is hidden behind a facade of electronic devices, however research at JCU has shown that old fashioned face-to-face dialogue gives greater engagement and better feedback to the student as a tool of assessment,” Dr Bandaranaike said.
“This has been the case when assessing students in work experience (Work Integrated Learning) in the University’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences in the disciplines of Geology, Environmental Science and Planning.
“While electronic communication and other forms of assessment have their place, face-to-face dialogue is intrinsic to engage the student in lifelong learning experiences,” she said.
Dr Sue Bandaranaike argues in her paper to the conference that Feedback is at the heart of student engagement and lifelong learning experiences.
The key to success is how students engage in their studies and attain employment with a positive attitude to lifelong learning skills
“To engage the students in work experience and motivate them, it is essential to have in place appropriate assessment tools during their work experience or work integrated learning.”
Dr Bandaranaike has developed a practical model that illustrates the transition from academic learning to career development.
“The purpose of the exercise is to train and engage students with appropriate skills and motivate them in lifelong learning,” she said. “These skilled graduates then form the potential workforce of Regional Australia currently in search of a highly motivated and dedicated workforce.
Dr Bandaranaike’s paper states that “whilst there are numerous methods of assessing work integrated learning, finding one which delivers effective feedback is critical to motivate students”.
“When a student engages in work experience training, what is important is not just completing the work experience and getting accreditation for it, but being motivated to engage in a lifelong experience of employability.
\”This can be achieved through the feedback and motivation provided by the educator and the employer.\”
Dr Bandaranaike said that her research showed that maximum feedback was available through face-to-face dialogue where the student was given the opportunity to discuss, defend and learn from the work experience and apply that knowledge in future employability.
“Work experience can provide students with an authentic learning environment where they combine professional knowledge building and practice with workplace learning,” she said. “Exposure to workplace settings can help students adopt appropriate workplace behaviours and help them to become adaptive, adaptable and transformative employees.
“Addressing Australia’s long-term skill shortages is vital to ensuring Australia’s economic growth and international competitiveness, and JCU directly supports the development of a skilled workforce and productive economy, especially in Regional Australia.”
Dr Bandaranaike said the value in the methodology she has developed lies in the capacity for students to willingly engage and openly communicate their experiences and concerns during their work experience and apply that knowledge to their future careers.
“Our future economy depends on not only how skilled our graduates are but also how motivated and engaged they are in their careers. My research shows that this engagement can be provided via the traditional face-to-face feedback and open dialogue with students.”