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The scientific nature of work-based learning and research: An introduction to first principles

Lee Fergusson (University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia)
Bradley Shallies (University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia)
Gerry Meijer (University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 4 October 2019

Issue publication date: 20 January 2020

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the scientific nature of work-based learning (WBL) and research as operationalized in Professional Studies by examining first principles of scientific inquiry.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper introduces a Professional Studies program as it has been implemented at University of Southern Queensland in Australia and examines it from the perspective of five first principles of scientific inquiry: systematic exploration and reporting, use of models, objectivity, testability and applicability. The authors do so not to privilege the meritorious qualities of science or to legitimise WBL or its example in Professional Studies by conferring on them the status of science, but to highlight their systematised approach to learning and research.

Findings

If the authors define Professional Studies to mean the systematic inquiry of work-based people, processes and phenomena, evidence affirmatively suggests that it is scientific “in nature”.

Originality/value

WBL has been well documented, but its orientation to research, particularly mixed methods (MM) research through Professional Studies, and its adherence to first principles of science have never been explored; this paper begins to uncover the value of work-based pedagogical approaches to learning and research.

Keywords

Citation

Fergusson, L., Shallies, B. and Meijer, G. (2020), "The scientific nature of work-based learning and research: An introduction to first principles", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 171-186. https://doi.org/10.1108/HESWBL-05-2019-0060

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited