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© Lee Harvey 2018, 2019, page updated 23 January, 2019

A novel of twists and surprises

Context Materials

Terminology is confusing and the terms 'case study' and 'simulation' are fairly widely used to describe learning materials which are quite different to the type Context aims to promote. (Click here to go straight to examples of Context Materials)

The Context model

The learning materials that fit the Context model will be referred to as context material. These materials are designed as participative, degree-subject based with a 'real world' setting. Context Material consists of case material (or a simulation) that:

  • is based as closely as possible on real work situations and issues (in business, government, the voluntary sector);
  • enables students to acquire academic knowledge;
  • is active and participative in style (providing students with opportunity for personal development).

Using Context materials

Materials typically involve students working in teams, and applying a range of personal and interpersonal skills such as team working, information handling, problem identification, creative problem-solving, negotiation and action-planning. They provide students with insights into work cultures as well as informing them about theory and practice.

Context material can be used to provide some of the learning situations of the workplace as well as additional dimensions. These include:

  • learning about a variety of employment sectors, situations and a variety of themes and functions in work;
  • offering team based activity - not always possible in work experience;
  • providing a range of skills development including interpersonal skills learning;
  • demonstrating the application of academic learning;
  • providing opportunity to extend student knowledge of workplaces;
  • broadening career horizons.

Examples of Context Materials can be found here

Other advantages of using Context material include:

  • the ability to cope with large numbers of students;
  • a high quality experience because materials are developed by expert authors, tested by students and then refined;
  • students face realistic constraints: time, resources, changing conditions, imperfect information;
  • a gain in student confidence from a practical approach.

Context material and other ways of providing work experience are complementary and, when used together, provide the full range of learning outcomes which might also then include:

  • student confidence in being able to "do the job";
  • student development of networks of contacts in the world of work.

Context-related publications can be found here

Hallmarks of context materials can be found here