Guidelines for the implementation of cooperative education in South African teaching and learning organisations in higher education
Wessels, Marius Lourens
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This study focuses on the compilation of guidelines for the implementation of cooperative education in teaching and learning organisations, in the Gauteng region in South Africa. Since no or limited guidelines exist in cooperative education in such organisations, it was intended to determine the present position or status of cooperative education in such organisations with the concomitant development of a conceptual framework and guidelines that could act as directive in higher education institutions and industry, with regard to cooperative education. At first a literature review was undertaken on the basic principles and nature of cooperative education, with an analysis of the current status of cooperative education locally and abroad. Special emphasis was placed during the literature survey on one of the components of cooperative education, namely experiential learning, with its different forms of learning such as work-integrated learning and service learning. Traditionally, higher education institutions in South Africa, and especially universities of technology and comprehensive universities, used a variety of terminology to describe the principles and practice of cooperative education. This created much confusion among academics in these institutions. A need for the standardisation of such terminology was identified and an attempt was made to redefine the concept of cooperative education and related terminology, to clarify this matter by defining cooperative education and related terminology. Furthermore, a comparative literature survey was undertaken with regard to the best practices in cooperative education on a national and international level. One of the most important issues in higher education since the origin and implementation of cooperative education is the strategic management of cooperative education. The various roles and responsibilities of the relevant role players involved in cooperative education were researched and recorded from literature. In consideration of the literature and on completion of the empirical study, an integrated (eclectic) management structure for the management and administration of cooperative education was proposed and described for higher education institutions. Funding of experiential learning in higher education institutions in South Africa by the Department of Education (DOE) is presently a serious concern. Without the proper funding of the experiential learning endeavour, it would be rendered null and void. Literature, according to a survey by the Committee of Technikon Principals (CTP) in former technikons, among others, indicated that funds from the DOE allocated in the form of subsidy and earmarked for experiential learning were not used for its intended purpose, and that such institutions did not deliver satisfactorily with regard to experiential learning. The consequence was that government subsidy for experiential learning in universities of technologies (the former technikons) was ceased, with serious implications for its implementation on operational level. Literature revealed that similar experiences were encountered historically in the United States of America (USA). Many challenges have been identified in the literature on cooperative education, such as the initiation of new strategies and the need to promote research and development in cooperative education. Future perspectives indicated a confirmation for the need for innovation and continuous improvement for cooperative education, locally and abroad. Finally, the literature review confirmed that cooperative education locally and abroad creates the "cutting edge" for higher education institutions. An empirical study involved students, heads of academic departments in higher education institutions and supervisors in industry, to ascertain the current status with regard to the basic principles and nature of cooperative education as well as best practices in cooperative education. Thereafter, a conceptual framework with concomitant guidelines was developed and compiled for cooperative education for teaching and learning organisations. Supported by a literature survey which highlighted the importance of quality assurance of experiential learning as one of the components of cooperative education, a quality assurance conceptual framework to be used in the quality management of experiential learning for learning programmes in higher education institutions was described. Finally, various recommendations and guidelines have been proposed for the implementation of cooperative education in teaching and learning organisations in the Gauteng province in South Africa. Keywords for indexing: cooperative education, work-based learning, work-integrated learning, experiential learning, experiential training, in-service training, placement of learners in industry, preparation of learners for experiential learning, placement of learners, monitoring/mentoring of learners, assessment of learners, debriefing of learners, research in cooperative education, management information systems in cooperative education, marketing of cooperative education, management models, models of cooperative education, companies in cooperative education, best practices in cooperative education, industrial liaison, partnerships with industry, training of learners in industry, nationally and internationally exchange/placement of learners, quality management, skills development and literacy development, learnership and skills programmes.
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