Can Action Learning be Applied in University Courses? Some Teaching Methodologies

Dr Thomas Kalliath,
Ms Parveen Kalliath
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Action learning has emerged in recent years as a powerful and effective tool for life long sustainable learning. In this paper, we argue that students can be better prepared for job challenges if they are exposed to action learning in the classroom which focuses on solving real problems. With this in view, we developed three teaching methodologies based on the principles of action learning in two university based courses, including a) systems thinking, b) personal change and c) reflective skills. While these methodologies reflect to some extent the content areas in the course, they go beyond the delivery of content and take on the characteristics of mutually reinforcing interventions in the classroom. Students' reactions to these approaches are presented and some of the difficulties in implementing the methodology in university setting are discussed. The generic nature of these methodologies have wider significance for other university based courses and programs. One of the authors of this paper has used these methodologies for eight years and was awarded the Vice Chancellor's medal for excellence in teaching in 2003.

Keywords: Action Learning, Systems Thinking, Personal Change, Reflective Skills
Stream: Adult, Vocational, Tertiary and Professional Learning
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Teaching to Create Empowered Learners

Dr Thomas Kalliath

Senior Lecturer, School of Business and Information Management, Australian National University

Thomas Kalliath, PhD has qualifications in organisational psychology and management from the Washington University in St. Louis, USA and Xavier Labour Relations Institute in India. Prior to joining ANU as a Senior Lecturer in Management, Thomas has taught organizational psychology, organizational development and change, and personnel training and development in the University of Waikato, New Zealand from 1995-2004. Thomas is the recipient of a number of excellence awards, including the University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor's Medal for Excellence in Teaching-2003. Recently, he co-edited Organizational Psychology in Australia and New Zealand (2003), the first textbook in the field specifically written for university students in Australia and New Zealand. Thomas has published over 30 refereed articles on job stress and burnout, work-family conflict, and innovations in teaching in professional journals such as Journal of Organisational Behaviour, Work and Stress, International Journal of Stress Management, Managerial Psychology, Educational and Psychological Measurement, Organisation Development Journal, Social Work Review, Journal of Nursing Administration, New Zealand Journal of Psychology, The Australian Journal of Rehabilitation Counselling, and Social Work Now. He has presented research papers in more than 40 national and international conferences. He is the Founder-Convenor of the New Zealand Organisation Development Network which holds two annual conferences to share innovations in organization development and change. He has over 25 years of professional work experiences as a hospital administrator, organizational development consultant, and academic in India, the USA and New Zealand.

Ms Parveen Kalliath

Lecturer, School of Social Work, Australian Catholic University, Canberra

Parveen Kalliath holds a Masters in Social Work from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University, St. Louis, USA, and a Masters in Social Work from Bombay University, India. Currently she is a Lecturer in the School of Social Work at the Australian Catholic University, Canberra. Prior to this appointment, she was a Senior Academic Staff member and the Coordinator of the Social Work Programme at the Waikato Institute of Technology, Hamilton, New Zealand. Her research interests include action learning, teamwork, and work family balance. She has published in refereed journals and also made national and international conference presentations in these areas. She has extensive experience (15 years) as a social work practitioner in India, USA and New Zealand.

Ref: L05P1122