Contextualising learning and teaching

Student looking at and engaging with diagramIf we communicate how theory, knowledge and professional practice are integrated in business, students are more likely to understand and apply what they have learned.

Why

The cognitive sciences tell us that learning involves building on or reinforcing existing neural networks (Zull, 2002). Learning quite literally represents changes in the brain. By contextualising learning, we are helping students reinforce or build on their existing knowledge (or neural networks).

When we explain concepts to students, we necessarily use the neural networks of knowledge in our own brains, however students have different neural networks. People learn better from active learning and teaching methods than passive methods (such as explanation alone). Demonstration, experience, practice and reflection all give students the opportunity to actively develop their own neural networks of understanding.

Examples

  • Illustrate how your discipline applies concepts, skills and knowledge, such as: refer students to a newspaper article per topic that relates content to a current business issue.
  • Give students the opportunity to emulate professional and disciplinary practice by using work-integrated learning (WIL).
  • Design authentic assessments and learning and teaching activities to give students experience of real business issues of cultural, ethical or economic significance.
  • Liaise with industry professionals to ensure there are mutual benefits to work-integrated learning.
  • Share findings from projects and research to create an awareness of the public and real relevance of scholarship.

Resources