Link theory to practice




Encourage learners to align the theory studied with their professional practice.


Link theory to practice (originally titled: REFLECT ON BOTH THEORY AND PRACTICE)



You want the learning to be valuable to the learner’s ongoing professional practice, but you find a misalignment between the
course content and the learner’s work.



For professional learners, the value of learning is increased when the link between content and practice is clear. Providing
opportunities for professional learners to explicitly integrate the theory learned on the course with their work practice and
context not only enhances learning and engagement, but links theoretical expertise with practical expertise.
Integrating the conceptual or theoretical knowledge learned through a formal course with practical or experiential
knowledge learned in informal, practice-based settings is important for professional learning (Tynjälä & Gijbels, 2012).
Tynjälä’s framework for integrative pedagogy (Tynjälä & Kallio, 2009) provides insight into how different types of expertise can
be integrated across the formal learning-informal workplace boundary. Self-regulated learning research in formal contexts
(e.g. Kauffman, 2004) demonstrates that learners who were encouraged to reflect on their learning, gained more knowledge.
This activity enhances learning effectiveness and increases


Course design should include tasks that explicitly require learners to link what they are learning in theory (in formal
education) to their current practice (while learning on-thejob).Additional tasks could require learners to articulate and
share action plans for embedding theoretical knowledge into their work practice. Examples generated by learners could
form a growing resource, illustrating diverse ways in which theory and practice might be linked. This resource could also
be used to refine and enhance course content.

CONSIDER: Linking theory with practice requires concepts to be taken across boundaries from one context (the course) to
another (the workplace). This boundary crossing presents a challenge to experienced professional learners. Some learners
will need to be supported in doing this through, for example, the inclusion of real world case studies that encourage reflection as an integral component of the course.





Data and References

This pattern was originally published in:
Littlejohn, A. and Milligan, C. (2015). Employers are becoming aware of the potential of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as a significant form of learning for work. eLearning Papers 42. Retrived from



Kauffman, D. F. (2004). Self-regulated learning in web-based environments: Instructional tools designed to facilitate cognitive strategy use, metacognitive processing, and motivational beliefs. Journal of Educational
Computing Research, 30(1), 139–161. doi:10.2190/AX2D-Y9VMV7PX-0TAD.

Tynjälä, P., & Kallio, E. (2009). Integrative pedagogy for developing vocational and professional expertise. Paper presented at the 13th Biennial Conference for Learning and Instruction, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Tynjälä, P. & Gijbels, D. (2012) Changing World: Changing Pedagogy. In P. Tynjälä, M-L. Stenström, and M. Saarnivaara. (Eds.), Transitions and Transformations in Learning and Education, pp 205-226. Dordrecht, Springer.

Author(s): Yishay Mor, Steven Warburton
Published at: 26 Jun 2015 13:04 GMT
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