Learning how to learn at work : lessons from three high school programs

by Cathy Stasz, Tessa Kaganoff

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Reports the results of a study of work-based learning (WBL) in three different types of programs, all serving similar populations of mostly minority students in a large metropolitan school district. The research took a different approach from other studies by focusing on the social context of work and the characteristics of workplaces as learning environments. The authors conclude that teaching and learning opportunities in these programs was generally positive. Students were satisfied with their work experience, but did not consider it very challenging--the worksites did not develop students' problem-solving skills around substantive, technical matters. In addition, work program coordinators need to consider a student's suitability for the social context of a particular worksite along with the student's knowledge or interest. Finally, students need skills to learn how to learn at work: to know when to ask questions, take initiative, have the confidence to solve problems, and know how to work together. Too often, however, schooling does not provide these skills. This implies that (1) WBL experiences should be provided for more students to give them the needed skills; and (2) school-based teaching should be improved to produce active, involved learners who will be better prepared to learn how to learn at work.

Originally published in: National Center for Research in Vocational Education.

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