Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Research)


Cork Institute of Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Desmond Keegan


This dissertation reports on research and development work, undertaken from 2000 to 2005, to develop and apply innovative models and methods to the establishment of a provision, within higher education in Ireland, tuned to the identified needs of diverse groups of learners in the workplace and in society at large.

Initial research identified, from the workplace perspective, the characteristics required of such provision and the topics it should address. The role of higher education in establishing such provision is reviewed in supporting learner development through the continuum; competence, capability, creativity. Relevant models and methods are identified as existing along a parallel continuum of pedagogy, andragogy, heutagogy. Using these and invoking identified principles and practice for adult learning, a contructivist approach to programme design, delivery and support based on authentic learning tasks and assessment is proposed. The capacity within the higher education environment in Ireland, generated by the recently established National Framework of Qualifications and by national and European education policies, to support such innovative approaches is explored. Based on the foregoing analysis, an approach to programme design, delivery and evaluation is proposed, based on a deep, sustainable partnership between higher education and the workplace. This is manifest in the fourteen-stage PAL (Partnership for Accreditation and Learning) and in the ‘Vertical Sandwich’ model created to promote it.

The issues and actions required to develop and implement programmes using this approach are explored. Integration of work-based learning and development of authentic assessment methodology are identified as critical elements. Two cases studies of the PAL process of programme development, from widely divergent workplace environments, are presented and reviewed within an action research paradigm. Finally, the outcomes and processes involved and the actions undertaken to sustain and embed them in mainstream provision are reviewed and significant areas for future research and development are identified.

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