Event Summary



Date and Time

Wednesday 10 November 2021 (13:00 - 15:00)


£20.00 (£35.00 non-members)

This is the third in a series of sessions in which we invite practitioners in the sector to learn from research. This time, we provide an insight into Derby College Group's pedagogical strategy for placing employers at the heart of technical study. We are pleased to welcome Melanie Lanser (Director of Teaching, Learning and Academic Research, Derby College Group) and her colleague, Sophie Harris (Project Lead) to share the findings of recent collaborative action research funded by the Edge Foundation.

The rollout of T Levels and the recent publication of the FE White paper, skills for jobs: lifelong learning for opportunity and growth promotes a clear policy drive to place employers at the heart of technical and vocational education in the future. Problem-based learning (PBL) aligns well with this agenda and is an accessible strategy for technical study programmes across all levels.

PBL is a collaboration between employers and educators, ensuring the curriculum corresponds with industry ‘ways of working’. Problems are co-created between employers and educators, and students work collaboratively to devise solutions. Employers can be involved in flexible ways, such as through the launch, through input (masterclasses), by providing informal feedback, and/or by being part of an assessment panel.

PBL connects the curriculum learning to industry each time students tackle a co-designed problem with employers. As students master this way of learning, they become increasingly motivated, connecting reasoning as to ‘why’ they are learning content; in effect, the content is ‘brought to life’. Transitioning from ‘traditional’ directed teaching to explorative learning offers students the opportunities to engage in career enhancing experiences (Cameron, 2020).

Partnering with Leeds City College and Loughborough College, Derby College staff have explored the links between PBL and Real-World learning to challenge the assumptions made about traditional curriculum models and teaching, learning and assessment in excellent vocational and technical education. This has been illustrated through innovative curriculum design, reduced assessment, and study programmes that reflect the working world, and has established a concept of aspiring to formulate how different PBL can look in varying contexts, such as: education from Level 1 to Level 5 in two technical routes (Animal Care and Engineering); several different employer engagement models;  and different cultures within the educational providers.

Problem-based learning was tested as a supportive pedagogy to smoothly transition students from one stage to the next throughout education and their journey to employment. The intention to establish ways of scaffolding PBL in and between levels (1-5) has also been successful. In addition, how PBL can evidence the Gatsby Standard was explored - how it embeds career education and the extent to which it develops industry/sector formation and employability attributes.

So, if you would like to learn more about this interesting and informative research, then come and join us for this online Zoom event facilitated by Karen Plowman, Head of Professional Development.

  • How can I access the event?

    All joining instructions will be sent a day prior to the session taking place and you will either be able to join us online, or by dialling into the session.

    If you have any questions or do not receive any joining instructions please call us on 0115 854 1626.

  • Terms and conditions

    Completion of the booking constitutes a contract between yourselves and the Skills and Education Group. In order to receive a refund, all cancellations must be made in writing at least 14 days prior to the event taking place. Non-attendance will result in the place being charged at full cost. Substitutions are welcome and can be made at any time. The Skills and Education Group reserves the right to cancel or alter the event for reasons beyond its control.