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MAIS 645: Understanding Work and Learning

View current syllabus.

Delivery mode: Grouped study.

Credits: 3

Prerequisite: Priority will go to students who have successfully completed MAIS 601 and MAIS 602.

Centre: Master of Arts Integrated Studies

Program: Master of Arts Integrated Studies


This course allows students to critically examine the new enthusiasm for "workplace learning," "learning organizations" and the relationship between education and work. The course is divided into 5 units -- Introduction to Work and Learning; The Schooling Debate; The Training and Skills Debate; Gender and Difference at Work; Work, Learning and the Learning Organization. The course should be of interest to all MAIS students and in particular to those students who want to strengthen their understanding of the issues in relation to debates in Adult Education; Educational Studies; Work, Organization and Leadership. The course draws on a number of readings from around the globe and in particular on North American and Australian texts.

Student Evaluation

To receive credit for this course, you must complete the following activities and assignments.

Online Participation-you must undertake substantial reading and make informed contributions to the computer conference discussions.

Presentation-you must prepare notes on an agreed (with your course professor) topic or theme related to work and learning. You must post your topic on the system and moderate the discussion on it.

Book Review-you must write one review of approximately 1,500 words of two chapters, articles, or papers on work and learning from the course materials.

Term Paper-you must complete a final term paper of approximately 4,000 words. Before you do this, you must agree on a topic with your course professor.

Course Structure

Students are expected to participate in online group discussion each week. Each Monday the course professor will post the week's discussion questions and instructions. Online participation consists of one or more postings: responses to discussion questions initiated by the course professor and responses to comments by other students. These messages should demonstrate knowledge of the assigned readings.

The following table summarizes the evaluation activities and the credit weight associated with each evaluation activity.

Activity Weighting Length
10 %
25 %
Book Review
25 %
1,500 words
Term Paper
40 %
4,000 words
100 %


Course Materials

The course materials for Master of Arts-Integrated Studies 645 include the items listed below.


The following textbooks and readers are used in this course. Please consult the Study Schedule in the Course Guide to learn at which points in the course the different readings are required.

  • Boud, David, and John Garrick, eds. Understanding Learning at Work. London: Routledge, 1999.
  • Lowe, Graham S. The Quality of Work: A People-centred Agenda. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Fenwick, Tara, ed. Sociocultural Perspectives on Learning through Work. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, no. 92. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001.
  • Bratton, J. et al. Workplace Learning: A Critical Introduction Garamond Press 2003

Reading File

The following assigned readings, which supplement the course textbooks, are reproduced in the Reading File.

  • Contenta, S. "Egerton Ryerson and the Hidden Curriculum." In Rituals of Failure: What Schools Really Teach, 15-30, 212-213. Toronto: Between the Lines, 1993.
  • Corrigan, Philip, Bruce Curtis, and Robert Lanning. "The Political Space of Schooling." In The Political Economy of Canadian Schooling, edited by T. Wotherspoon, 21-43.Toronto: Methuen, 1987.
  • Freedman, J. "Why the Charter School Solution?" In The Charter School Idea: Breaking Educational Gridlock, 40-49. Red Deer, AB: Society for Advancing Educational Research, 1995.
  • Kachur, Jerrold L., and Trevor W. Harrison. "Public Education, Globalization and Democracy: Whither Alberta?" In Contested Classrooms: Education, Globalization, and Democracy in Alberta, edited by T. W. Harrison and J. L. Kachur, xiii-xxxv. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press / Parkland Institute, 1999.
  • Wotherspoon, T. "Schooling and Work." In The Sociology of Education: Critical Perspectives, 129-154, 214-233. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • Shields, John. "Flexible Work, Labour Market Polarization, and the Politics of Skills Training and Enhancement." In The Training Trap: Ideology, Training and the Labour Market, edited by T. Dunk, S. McBride, and R. Nelsen, 53-72. Society for Socialist Studies / Études Socialistes (Vol. 11). Winnipeg; Halifax: Society for Socialist Studies / Fernwood Publishing, 1996.
  • Brophy, Lynn, and David Robertson. "Redesigning Training in Auto Parts: From First Principles to Integrated Curriculum and Interactive Classrooms." In Workplace Education: The Changing Landscape, edited by M. C. Taylor, 109-128. Toronto: Culture Concepts Inc. Publishers, 1997.
  • Peruniak, G. "Dimensions of Competence-based Learning." In Learning for Life: Canadian Readings in Adult Education, edited by S. M. Scott, B. Spencer, and A. M. Thomas (pages 313-329). Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing, 1998.
  • Fenwick, Tara. "Questioning the Concept of the Learning Organization." In Learning for Life: Canadian Readings in Adult Education, edited by S. M. Scott, B. Spencer, and A. M. Thomas, 140-152; 373-391. Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing, 1998.

Athabasca University Material

Course Guide: The Course Guide contains the introduction, objectives, reading assignments, commentaries, online activities, assignments and evaluation criteria, and other information students will need to complete the course successfully. Students should take time now to review the information in this document in order to become familiar with the design of the course.

Forms: The forms students will need to submit assignments or to inform the University of a change in status as a student are included with the course materials.