National Teaching Fellow 2009
Anita's interest is in the group of learners whose life/work responsibilities preclude them from undertaking full-time higher education, and whose own education took place prior to the recent widening participation initiatives. The common thread which draws together all her activities as an academic is her interest in learning, teaching and assessment, particularly as it relates to the experience-based learning of mature professional students. This interest is the focus of both her research and her practice.
Anita believes that experience, both as the basis for learning and for the development of professional expertise, has been consistently undervalued in higher education so that valid learning outside the university has often gone unrecognised. Since joining Birkbeck in 2005, Anita has developed an innovative model of work-based learning which is experience-based, and which introduces learners to generic academic skills while allowing them to use workplace activities as the focus for their academic study. This model, and the programmes which are based on it, specifically addresses the need to move WBL beyond the notion of skills development, into personal and professional development. The flexibility and responsiveness of the model extends employer/employee engagement beyond the conventional consultancy model into direct involvement with programme design.
In addition to working with experience-based learning in the workplace, Anita also works with colleagues to support the development of academic practice related to the Assessment of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL). She is actively engaged in informing the development of expert practice related to APEL in a number of European universities, and is also Associate Director of the Learning from Experience Trust (LET), an educational charity committed to the recognition of informal learning.
As someone with considerable expertise in the academic recognition of experience-based learning in the workplace and elsewhere, Anita believes it is fundamental to engage with academic colleagues to debate the epistemological and pedagogical issues raised by this activity. She uses her articles and conference papers to stimulate such debate, and to argue for the wider recognition of experience-based learning in the workplace and elsewhere.
Senior Lecturer in Work-Based Learning
Birkbeck, University of London