• An evaluation of practitioners’ views of consultancy and applied research at the University of Derby

      Edwards, Mike; Wiltshier, Peter; University of Derby (2013)
      The aim of this research has two objectives; firstly, to evaluate the development of cognitive, transferable and intellectual skills in Higher Education students, secondly, to transfer that knowledge by means of collaboration with community organisations. Experiential learning and regeneration/diversification project work is needed by all communities. The collaboration is built upon our ability to provide graduates and a community with portfolios of independent evidence of achievement obtained from working with a partner organisation. The work-related learning supports the Community Charitable Trust “New Opportunities Wirksworth” in the market town of Wirksworth, Derbyshire through the delivery of specially negotiated work-based learning. Teaching, learning and assessment in Higher Education use problem-based learning, especially in vocation-specific domains that is usually undertaken using a constructivist approach. Such constructivist methodologies are often predicated, for students and for teachers, on the delivery of experiential, entrepreneurial and applied skills. Students are seen as short-changed if they are not engaging with Problem Based Learning from lecturers working at the ‘frontiers of knowledge’. We also acknowledge that Problem Based Learning provides an opportunity for producing outcomes in new knowledge for students and communities that is highly usable when compared to memory-based learning . So, in this research we directed and managed a cadre of students to consider PBL as experiential and practical learning. The project meets the contemporary employability agenda through the application of PBL and knowledge transfer to our specific organisation, ‘Wirksworth NOW!’. The outcomes and outputs of the collaboration have applications in NOW’s core cluster components for community regeneration: arts, creative industries and culture, trade and tourism, education and training, youth. Keywords Problem-based
    • Managing knowledge transfer partnership for a rural community: the outcomes at Wirksworth, UK.

      Wiltshier, Peter; Edwards, Mike; University of Derby (2014)
      Purpose This paper proposes a knowledge transfer partnership model, using Higher Education (HE) students researching in the United Kingdom. It is focused on community engagement via charitable trusts, New Opportunities Wirksworth (NOW) & Ecclesbourne Valley Rail (EVR). The researchers designed and implemented a pilot study that explored the potential of a small, yet attractive and active, market town to diversify and regenerate using tourism. This project, which has been funded by the UK Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), has been devised to operate and monitor a knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) in the culturally important heritage market town of Wirksworth, in Derbyshire.. Design, Methodology, Approach A systems-thinking constructivist approach is used (Checkland & Scholes, 1981; Kolb & Kolb, 2005) and employs problem-based learning (PBL) through engagement of students in research and data collection. We identified that skills for sustainable development within the community are dependent on the re-integration of complex, inter-dependent and inter-disciplinary factors. A holistic approach to the learning and knowledge shared within the community underpins UK initiatives to promote capacity development in ways to change knowledge applications across product and service boundaries (Taylor & Wilding 2009; Hislop 2009; Leitch, 2006; Dawe et al 2005; Wals et al 2002; Haskins 2003;;). Therefore, in addition to encouraging diversification and regeneration through tourism, this project supported the University of Derby’s academic agenda to promote experiential and entrepreneurial learning in students working at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. This paper accords with the current University initiatives to meet the student employability agenda through the application of PBL and knowledge management (KM). Findings The creation of outcomes and recommendations for Wirksworth’s stakeholders provides sustainability through the knowledge creation and sharing processes. There are seven outcomes that chart a path to development and knowledge transfer and sharing. We simultaneously provided an environment for students to gain skills and a community to acquire new knowledge, and these are the outcomes and output of this project (Hendry et al, 1999; Brown & King, 2000; Kolb & Kolb, 2005). New learning styles may support inclusive academic practice (see related samples of PBL such as Ineson (2001) and Beresford (2001) in HLST resources 2001). Implications for building a knowledge transfer community through the social capital accumulated in the project is explored (Ellis, 2010; Mulgan, 2010; Senge, 1994). Originality In taking PBL from the classroom to the community, we have created a new knowledge transfer environment in which skills can be acquired and a regeneration strategy can be tested in a work-or-practice related setting. Students recognise that they are building learning for themselves that is unique in that it cannot be recreated in a classroom setting. We see this project developing into a robust long-term partnership between communities and institutions with knowledge transfer benefits to teaching staff in addition to students. These benefits will include new skills for PBL, working collaboratively with partners in the community to develop key skills in HE students, innovation in assessment, inclusive learning and teaching, experiential and entrepreneurial learning in practice.