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Learning Philosophy

Ensuring our Graduates are ready for the world-of work

Ensuring that students are well-equipped for post graduate work, is a key aspect of higher education. Focusing on employability helps universities and colleges to attract and retain high quality students and maintain a competitive advantage in the global market as a result.


This strategy outlines a consolidated and holistic Doctoral College approach to addressing a changing environment.


The challenge for Doctoral College is to establish what we mean by what we say. There is a range of terminology used for example, ‘Added-Value’ which for Doctoral College means what we do beyond delivering the curriculum for the qualifications that our learners are studying for. Doctoral College believes added value comes from the way we encourage our students to learn, the way our academics are trained to teach and the extra curriculum topics we inspire our students to engage with. Our andragogy teaching philosophy is focused around adult ‘life-long-learning’. This in addition to our staffs enthusiasm to establish research rich teaching creates the academic culture and environment whereby students are motivated to be active, independent, innovative and collaborative in their daily educational journey.


Typical ‘added value’ topics available to students are:

  • Employability skills – Soft skills

  • Enterprise skills - Entrepreneurship

  • Career management skills – Career planning


Doctoral College uses the term ‘Employability’ to cover all of the above with an aim to develop these skills in our students through our Developing Young Professionals Framework, and Best Young Professional Award. The UK Governments broad definition of employability is: ‘a set of achievements – skills, understandings, and personal attributes – that make graduates [young people] more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations, which benefits themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy.’ We see the work we are doing with our students as fitting this definition. It is about preparing students to become active citizens as well as to be successful in the labour market throughout their lives.

Academic progress is an individual learner experience

Making progress relies on a whole range of influencing factors, and students make progress at different times and at different rates. A focus on final exam results often fails to take account of the huge steps students and tutors may have taken along the way.


What is value-added?

If we look at all students and monitor their progress over a certain period of time. We tend to find  that this progress has a ‘Bell Curve’ or Normal Distribution. Some students make a small amount of progress, most make a near average progression and some make exceptional progress. As well as being subject to natural variation, the improvement in achievement owes a lot to the environments in which students find themselves. The quality of teaching, availability of resources and many other factors may have an effect on the progress of individual students. In fact, if we consider a fixed period of time we can talk of the amount of improvement a university or college has added to the student. All universities and colleges can improve their students in this way. However, if one university or college is increasing the achievement level of its students more than other universities or colleges are, then its students gain an additional advantage. It is this relative advantage that Doctoral College strives to achieve and it is what Doctoral College calls the value-added that we offer to our students.


Tracking value-added performance over time

Statistical process control charts enable Doctoral College to monitor our value-added performance, by subject. This helps Doctoral College identify when value-added is not down to chance but is a reflection of the quality of teaching and learning, enabling Doctoral College to share best practice across departments.


Evidence, consistency and stability

Objective value-added progress measures provide vital evidence for internal monitoring and external inspections as well as providing consistency and stability during a time of ever-changing government policy on assessment, tracking and accountability.


Assisting our leadership and management

Value-added reports play an important role in providing evidence for self-evaluation, Doctoral College improvement plans and inspections. The breakdown of feedback supports Doctoral College leaders in driving improvements by understanding progress across the whole organisation, identifying performance above or below expectation across all curriculum areas. The value-added feedback can be easily imported into management information systems and allows us to monitor trends over time with year-on-year comparisons.


Supporting effective teaching and learning

Value-added is a fair measure of the progress that students have made. Rather than relying solely on exam results, it takes account of where each student started from and the progress, they made relative to other, similar students. The value-added reports help us ask the right questions about individual subject strengths, share best practice between programmes, support judgements about assessment and support, and tailor aspirational target-setting.


Teaching Philosophy is based upon - Lev Vygotsky's Sociocultural Theory

The work of Lev Vygotsky (1934) has become the foundation of much research and theory in cognitive development over the past several decades, particularly of what has become known as sociocultural theory. Vygotsky's sociocultural theory views human development as a socially mediated process in which students acquire their cultural values, beliefs, and problem-solving strategies through collaborative dialogues with more knowledgeable members of society. Vygotsky's theory is comprised of concepts such as culture-specific tools, private speech, and the Zone of Proximal Development. Vygotsky's theories stress the fundamental role of social interaction in the development of cognition (Vygotsky, 1978), as he believed strongly that community plays a central role in the process of "making meaning."


Zone of Proximal Development

The concept of the 'More Knowledgeable Other' is integrally related to the second important principle of Vygotsky's work, the Zone of Proximal Development. This is an important concept that relates to the difference between what a student can achieve independently and what a student can achieve with guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner.

ZPD and scaffolding.png

Vygotsky (1978) sees the Zone of Proximal Development as the area where the most sensitive instruction or guidance should be given - allowing the student to develop skills they will then use on their own - developing higher mental functions.


Vygotsky also views interaction with peers as an effective way of developing skills and strategies.  He suggests that teachers use cooperative learning exercises where less competent students develop with help from more skilful peers - within the zone of proximal development.

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