Practical learning: achieving excellence in the human services

January 23-25 2008 Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Making transitions from academic literacy to professional literacy: the nexus of the practical and the theoretical

Keywords: transitions, employability, lifelong learning, professional literacies

Author: Doctor Jan Millwater (Queensland University of Technology)

Current research suggests that as tertiary educators we question our assumption that if students are well equipped with graduate capabilities and academic literacies, then they will be able to function in their new post-graduation environments as professionals. Hence we ask, are our graduates fully able to understand how to learn, how to engage with colleagues and how to become a successful practitioner within a new professional space. This paper problematises the terms - tertiary and academic literacies, competencies, graduate attributes, employability skills, transferable skills and lifelong learning. The term 'professional literacies' is used in this paper to encompass the various professional attributes, skills and attitudes that enable our graduates learn to act and to act strategically within their new professional environments. This paper therefore explores the question, 'if the students who are soon to be our colleagues have (in theory) amassed academic or employability skills, how and what do we do to engage with them to support their synthesising these skills (in practice) and to extending them into becoming professional literate in any professional context.'

This paper discusses and clarifies terms that are bandied about when academics, practitioners and employers talk of our tertiary students making the transition out of our institutions and into other professional environments. It seeks to describe and make a case for the use and for common understanding of terms across disciplines that are applied to 'transition' strategies, events and standards of 'employability' that are integral to the graduating student who needs aware of what being professionally literate is all about within the services.

Audience - academics, employers and practitioners - it will be multi-disciplinary in nature as it will include references to teacher education, health education and law... etc.

Date: Thursday 24 January 2008, 11.30-12.00

Venue: Carrick Three

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Organised by the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services in association with PEPE (Practical Experiences in Professional Education).