Work based learning: the impact of higher education/employer engagement in North East England

  • Madeline Fisher

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research (January 2009 to January 2012) described the impact of Work Based Learning (WBL) programmes on three large organisations involved in HE/employer engagement partnerships to up-skill experienced employees in NE England. A case study approach gathered rich qualitative data from public and private organisations, and their university partner which provided long-term, whole-day university-based master-class WBL programmes for University-accredited qualifications with the support of Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Strategic Development Funding. The public organisation delivered its own certificate-level sessions; and a Foundation Degree was delivered by the University and the organisation’s Directors. Modified action research observations of classes preceded a questionnaire profiling candidates, their motivations, and perspectives about WBL. Stakeholders’ semi-structured interviews (Wengraf, 2001) answered: “how, why and with what consequences does the Mode 2 learning of the individual impact the Mode 2 learning of the organisation”, premised on WBL using Mode 2 “how to” knowledge (Gibbons et al, 1994). Data, mainly collected from May to November 2010, was analysed using a modified grounded theory approach (Corbin and Strauss, 2008) with fractal concept analysis (Wasserman, Clair and Wilson, 2009). Rich descriptions of the impacts of WBL from the perspectives of those involved in HE/employer engagement partnerships resulted in models for developing new partnerships and incorporating employer engagement within a university. Original contributions to WBL knowledge included the Courtyard Model based upon findings including types of knowledge/concepts/values that emerged from the research which may potentially lead to new pedagogies. Impacts of WBL included networking that carried the organisation’s strategic vision into its culture to enhance its sustainability and possible growth. Candidates attributed valuing reputation, knowledge and people to universities as organisations. The Courtyard Model summarised the relationship between the impacts of WBL on the development of candidates and organisations in terms of reputation, knowledge, people, networks, culture and sustainability.
Date of Award21 Sept 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SupervisorRuth Helyer (Supervisor)

Cite this