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Problem-focused education and the question of theory and practice, with special reference to some university courses

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Margetson, D B(Donald Bazil) (1991) Problem-focused education and the question of theory and practice, with special reference to some university courses. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Any prevailing form of education is typically challenged by alternatives. Especially since Dewey, education at primary and secondary levels has sometimes and to varying degrees reflected a concern with problems. Recently, and increasingly, fully "problem-based" degree programmes have been adopted in universities in response to criticisms of the prevailing subject-based norm and particularly in an attempt to overcome difficulties of the relation between theory and practice. One example of disillusionment with theory is evident in teacher education programmes where "foundational" theory subjects are under attack.
This thesis acknowledges that subject-based learning may have contributed to the separation of theory from practice, and investigates problem-focused learning as a more coherent and educative way of understanding and learning to live in reality in terms of our own changing understanding. The question of the separation of theory from practice is itself taken to be a problem in education, and the investigation is focused on it. The thesis therefore not only investigates a problem in education but itself represents problem-focused theorising as a way of inquiring into and learning about education. It reflects openness to increased coherency by discussing a wide range of educational questions related to problem-focused learning and theory and practice, together with more general, relevant questions in knowledge and understanding, value, and human nature.
A brief review of the importance of problems in human life, the relation of problems to subjects, and defences of subject-based learning introduces the inquiry. The theory-practice gap is considered, and its underlying foundationalist conception of knowledge exposed. After millennia of the theory-practice gap, is there a conception of knowledge which avoids it? Examples of moves towards such a conception are outlined and related to wider developments in human understanding. Against this background the emergence of problem-focused learning is described, detailed accounts given of an existing subject-based curriculum and a problemfocused curriculum in two universities, and issues in the debate identified. The nature of problems is then considered in depth in order to elucidate problem-focused learning. The inquiry investigates problems as mere utilitarian concerns, as inconsistencies, and as questions in terms of a coherentist conception of knowledge which resolves the separation of theory from practice.
In the light of this understanding, important qualities of problem-focused learning are identified and some questions of implementation are discussed. Within the broad contrast between subject-based learning and problem-focused learning, educative learning is distinguished from pedagogy, with a corresponding distinction between problem-focused education and problem-focused learning. The general conclusion is that problem-focused education is a truly educative form of learning and therefore deserves universal adoption.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Universities and colleges, Education
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1991 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Includes bibliograpahical references (p. 405-416). Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1992

Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2014 02:33
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2017 01:56
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