Learning and Teaching Investment Fund 2008
Summary of Projects
New ways of Industry-centred Learning using Enterprise Education
Assoc Prof. Anthony Mills
Summary of the project, outcomes, impacts and dissemination
This research focuses on the distinctive issues associated with Work-integrated Learning in the property and construction industry. This research demonstrated that although the construction industry has considerable good will towards RMIT, as industrial employers they had difficulties providing learning experiences in their work places. The adopted solution was a course that gave teams of students an opportunity to solve real-world problems supplied by industry partners in a university setting. The initiative was modelled on a similar concept known as the Enterprise Program run by Michigan Tech University (MTU) in the USA. The project addressed the LTIF grant scheme assessment criteria in a number of priority areas, including; innovative educational opportunities for students and improved recognition of RMIT graduates by industry.
Key results of the previous research indicated that industry was looking for the development of Work-integrated Learning (WIL) in two areas. These were university-centred assessment processes that include qualitative advice from industry, and a robustly tested business-orientated model that provides long-term collaboration opportunities for industrial partners. This pilot study course used the Enterprise Education model which was believed to provide a solution to the issue raised by industry stakeholders.
The development of a partnership between the University and industry in providing Work-integrated Learning (WIL) that complements the program of study is widely suggested as being a panacea. It has been argued that without partnerships, students may not get the range of experience they need and may struggle to find the linkages between theory and practice in the real world. This is particularly the case in property and construction, where industrial experience is valued highly by employers. However, the nature of project-based work environments creates many educational challenges.
The Enterprise process involved the university establishing an entity (elective subject), called a Construction Enterprise. In 2008 it was based on two generic topics proposed by industrial firms. These were Occupational Health and Safety, and the impact of work-life balance in construction. Students self selected into each topic and created their own Enterprise to work on the issues. Students met weekly with industry mentors and academics to investigate the problems. The assessment comprised student reflective diaries, newsletters, presentations, and a final report.
After the completion of the project, a YouTube video was produced outlining the aims and benefits of the project, an article in Ed Magazine was published and two further papers were written about Enterprise Education.