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Unit information: Contemporary Perspectives on Learning in 2015/16

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Unit name Contemporary Perspectives on Learning
Unit code EDUCM5918
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Mrs. Elisabeth Lazarus
Open unit status Not open

Introduction to Educational Inquiry



School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit explores how learning has been constructed over time and in particular examines some contemporary socio-cultural concepts of learning. It develops a series of conceptual lenses with which to analyse particular models of teaching, curriculum design, assessment modes and educational management approaches. It draws heavily on participants' professional working contexts to both anchor and illustrate the ideas developed and to use these to critique real practice.


The principal aim of this unit is to link theories of learning to an exploration of how learning and teaching are constructed, ‘delivered’ assessed and managed at institutional and individual level.

It also aims to develop students’ skills in research and scholarship as well as develop their skills in marshalling and organising information and observations within an extended piece of writing.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of the unit students will be able to demonstrate evidence of:

  • An extended knowledge of theories, concepts, issues and key arguments that shape particular constructs of learning.
  • Knowledge of the relevant literature in the core areas of study
  • The ability to compare, contrast and critique different models of learning
  • The ability to apply the conceptual frameworks developed in the unit to an analysis of individual and collective practice in the management of learning;

Teaching details

Given the nature of the programme, teaching is organised into an intensive 3-day event during which there are a combination of teaching strategies, which may include whole group lectures, visiting speakers, case studies, critical analysis of key readings, group discussions and student presentations.

The needs of a wide range of students, including those with disabilities, international students and those from ethnic minority backgrounds have been considered. It is not anticipated that the teaching and assessment methods used will cause disadvantage to any person taking the unit. The Graduate School of Education is happy to address individual support requests as necessary.

Assessment Details

A 4000 word extended account that applies one or several perspectives on learning to the analysis of institutional practice.

In this account, participants will be expected to show clear understanding of core constructs, a good knowledge of the relevant literature, the ability to synthesise ideas and use these to analyse processes, and the ability to express their ideas and analyses in a structured, disciplined and coherent way, as befits this level of study.

Reading and References

  • Coleman, M. & Earley, P (Eds.) (2005) Leadership and Management in Education: Cultures, Change and Context, pp. 227-250 Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Davis, B., Sumara, D., Luce-Kapler, R. (2000) Engaging Minds: Learning and Teaching in a Complex World, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
  • Glazer, E. M. and Hannafin, M. J. (2006) The collaborative apprenticeship model: situated professional development within school settings. Teaching and Teacher Education 22(2) 179-193.
  • Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp 67-72
  • Mulford, B. & Silins, H. (2003) Leadership for organizational learning and improved student outcomes – what do we know? Cambridge Journal of Education 33(2) 175-195.
  • Wells, G. & Claxton, G. (Eds.) (2002) Learning for Life in the 21st Century: Sociocultural Perspectives on the Future of Education, pp. 239-251. Oxford: Blackwell.