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Acquisition of higher-order professional competencies: a new synergistic learning model

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posted on 2023-08-30, 14:44 authored by Martyn Quarterman
Context: This research centres on the acquisition of professional competencies by graduates who have recently entered the construction industry. Many professional competencies involve critical thinking and subjective decision-making under conditions of uncertainty and variability; and therefore require higher-order abilities to accomplish. The acquisition of these competencies has been shown to be problematic, difficult to achieve and to take longer than anticipated. The aim of this research was to determine if acquisition could be enhanced and/or accelerated. Research Design: The research design adopted a mixed methods approach. The study commenced by identifying and defining the problematic competencies through a process of qualitative research. This was followed by analysis of existing learning theories and non-traditional learning techniques that had been applied in other contexts through a search of the literature and published accounts of applications. The analysis identified constituent parts of theories and practice which were developed into an innovative learning model. The model was tested through a process of quantitative research conducted using a controlled experiment with a sample of new-entrant graduates employed by professional firms. Findings: The research produced a new model of learning comprising a unique combination of learning theories, practices and applicational constituents which acted in a synergistic way to enhance the acquisition of higher-order professional competencies. The research identified synergy as an important factor in the design and efficacy of the model, hitherto not recognised. Conclusions: The research has shown that higher-order professional competencies can be acquired faster and more effectively. It has developed and extended the learning theory of Bancroft, Burguillo, Lui et al and others through the identification of synergy as a significant factor. The research concludes by demonstrating that the learning model can reasonably be transferred to other new-entrants within the built environment industry and generalised to the development of graduate new-entrants in other professional sectors.



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