Independent learning

20 September 2021
CPL profile VickiRobertson 005

Glenys Ker has developed a novel model for effective facilitation of learning.

Capable NZ is a school in Otago Polytechnic specialising in work-based learning and professional practice qualification for adults. Capable NZ is unique in offering an Independent Learning Pathway (ILP) approach for whole qualifications; the student does not do any taught coursework but meets all the requirements of the qualification from their learning through years of practical experience and by studying independently where there are gaps in that learning. Every Capable NZ student has a facilitator to guide ILP learning. There was a need for research to evaluate the effectiveness of the facilitation of learning approach.

Glenys began by surveying all the Capable NZ students who had gained or were still working towards two subject-specific qualifications - a Bachelor of Social Services or Bachelor of Applied Management - in the years 2006 to 2014. 38% provided responses to questions about their learning and the role their facilitators played in the learning. The survey was followed by ten in-depth interviews with current learners, and eight interviews with facilitators of the ILP model. 

Glenys captured the themes emerging from the feedback and analysis, to identify clear signposts for both effective learning and effective facilitation in an independent learning context.  This led to development of a model for effective facilitation of learning. This model comprised the following: 

  • The underlying conception of facilitation as a professional activity and a set of principles for effective facilitation of learning;
  • A competency framework for facilitators;
  • An overview of the learning process, a set of individually focused learning tasks to aid learners and a visual map to guide the use of these tasks, as well as complementary tools for facilitators; and
  • A tool for self assessment and reflection, for facilitators and for learners.

This research has been the subject of Glenys' Doctorate in Professional Studies with Middlesex University. Her in-depth inquiry into the role of the facilitator and what makes for effective facilitation of learning is novel, and applicable where facilitation is adopted as the primary mode for teaching in independent learning contexts. Glenys reflects on her work:

What excites me most about this research project? I believe these Independent Learning Pathway (ILP) learning opportunities should be made more available i.e. this is an equity issue. I am passionate about education as a transformative process: turning people on to learning, helping people grow in confidence and career capability.



December 2017