Lecturer wins award for innovation

Last year, a new elective subject for third year students was piloted at La Trobe University’s Shepparton campus as part of its program of integrating university study with actual practice in local organisations.

Chris ShieldsThis departure from traditional study has won course creator and La Trobe University Regional School of Business Lecturer, Dr Chris Shields a 2010 Dean’s Teaching Commendation.

Run out of La Trobe’s Shepparton campus, the core objectives of the subject, Integrated Management Practice, are for students to recognise the practical application of theory in the workplace, gain confidence and understand the potential for their own contribution to the organisation.

‘My notion is that tertiary education is vocationally motivating for most students. I have a conviction that work and learning are intrinsically bound to professional practice and intellectual pursuit.

‘A significant goal of teaching and learning innovation is to increase the preparedness of graduates for work through the engagement of students with professional practitioners,’ says Dr Shields.

The new subject, part of the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) program, is designed to provide an industry based learning experience will provide real life encounters with management issues.

‘Each student is responsible for their own learning and preparation for the four workshops that take place during the subject. These are held in a discussion format where students exchange ideas and solve problems as a team,’ says Dr Shields.

Student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.  Many have commended the learning structure in that it is a more realistic way to learn the curriculum and more useful than studying for an exam.

Currently studying a Bachelor of Business part-time, Sheree Burke is a mature-age student at the Shepparton campus and says the course was refreshing and changed the dynamic of learning as she was able to receive real-life examples on the job.

‘It gave me the opportunity to work in a safe environment and realise what I am learning at uni is applicable to the workplace. I really enjoyed the interactive approach to teaching, it has made me feel more confident in my abilities as a professional employee,’ says Sheree.

This enlightened approach to teaching and learning and development of the curriculum was through the efforts of Dr Shields and staff from the Regional School of Business. The hard work of staff has ensured that students have a new and exciting option for study.

‘I am a late entrant to academia. I spent my career in the corporate sector which is where I gained a passion for the integration of work and learning. An alliance between universities and organisation is important in order to provide a seamless transition from undergraduate educational experiences to practice in their chosen field,’ says Dr Shields.


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