MDX joint top institution globally for work-based learning research, study finds

MDX’s Professor Carol Costley and visiting academic Dr Stan Lester identified among four experts globally with the highest number of citations in the field.

Middlesex University has been identified as the main institution – alongside research-intensive Monash University in Australia – producing knowledge on work-based learning in a recent Worldwide Bibliometric of Work-Based Learning Research.

The paper, published online in Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning , focuses on highly-rated research and the reach of work-based learning research networks, rather than overall quantity of research.

Professor of Work and Learning Carol Costley, Director of MDX’s Work and Learning Research Centre, and Dr Stan Lester, an independent researcher who for many years has been a visiting academic at MDX, are identified among four experts with the highest number of citations in the field.

The UK has more than 48% of the total high rated publications covered by the study, followed by Australia (15.1%) and the US (11%), although work-based learning increasingly has global reach with a number of European countries generating and publishing knowledge in the field. (Professor Carol Costley is currently engaged with others in drafting a Work-Based Learning Principles guide for the European Commission). There is much research involvement also in countries such as Brazil and Malaysia.

MDX has run work-based learning programmes for employees at local and community enterprises such as inclusive theatre company Chickenshed

MDX Vice-Chancellor Professor Nic Beech says: “I am particularly delighted to see Middlesex’s pre-eminent position in the field of work-based learning research over 30 years recognised. Middlesex has a proud tradition of impactful, practice-oriented research, and has grown as a centre of work-based learning and teaching over the same period.

“Being strongly engaged in organisations and businesses of all shapes and sizes is central to our future and I look forward to Middlesex academics continuing to collaborate with the world of work as we develop through momentous technological and social changes in the coming years”.

Carol Costley says: “After many years working at MDX and gaining my Professorship in work-based learning, I’m delighted MDX’s record in the field has been acknowledged in this way”.

WBL research at MDX and around the world is extending to several areas, such as overhauling corporate governance; inclusive workplaces, flexible working and disadvantaged groups; investment in skills, lifelong learning and well-being; and re-balancing working practices and rights.

“Most of the research is in Education journals, because the field is concerned with how people learn through their work (paid and unpaid) and how universities can facilitate such higher level learning” says Carol. Carol and her colleagues in the Work and Learning Research Centre draw in their research on the “practice turn” in social sciences, as revealed by sociologist and philosopher Professor Theodore Schatzki, and the work of practice theorists, such as Warwick University’s Professor Davide Nicolini.