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Taking professional practice seriously : implications for deliberate course design
chapterposted on 01.01.2016, 00:00 authored by David BoudDavid Boud
Much rhetoric is deployed on arguing that university courses should prepare students for the world of work. Indeed, the main rationale for courses for the professions is that they contribute to preparing students to become effective practitioners. Some professions recognise that there is a transitional period following graduation needed in this process. There is a basic assumption though that, whatever additional elements may also be needed to aid transition, the course itself is the main foundation. There is no shortage of features of courses claimed to prepare students for practice: various kinds of work-integrated learning, placements and practical work, authentic tasks and assessment activities, and indeed entire approaches to the curriculum that focus students’ attention on the kinds of issues that practitioners deal with (e.g. problem-based learning). But can it be reasonably claimed that such approaches recognise the nature of practice? This chapter suggests that courses tend to be poor exemplars of good educational practice for the professions. They have a poorly conceptualised view of what it is that professionals do. They are governed by what is involved in teaching within academic disciplines. They trap students in current knowledge without the capacity to move beyond it. And they do not have a strong sense that courses need to be actively designed and redesigned to produce graduates that will be deliberate professionals. The chapter provides, not a prescription of what is needed for a new curriculum, but an argument for how it might be developed and applied. That is, what educators themselves need to do to become deliberate professionals.