Guiding principles for the development of a conceptual framework for postgraduate distance education in project management

PhD Thesis


Todhunter, Barrie James. 2009. Guiding principles for the development of a conceptual framework for postgraduate distance education in project management. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland.
Title

Guiding principles for the development of a conceptual framework for postgraduate distance education in project management

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorTodhunter, Barrie James
SupervisorPostle, Glen
Nooriafshar, Mehryar
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages403
Year2009
Abstract

This study examines an existing postgraduate distance education program in project management in the setting of a regional university (University of Southern Queensland), and explores ways in which the program can be reconceptualised so that it aligns with validated pedagogical principles. By means of a comprehensive and in-depth analysis, the case study approach holistically explores the organisational context within which the program exists, the pedagogical frameworks by which the program is offered, and the educational setting within which students undertake their learning tasks and activities. Activity Theory has been used to undertake the study which has been guided by the question:

What are the guiding principles for the development of a conceptual framework for postgraduate distance education in project management?

The study progressively explores the contextual issues that influence postgraduate distance education for project management, the characteristics and circumstances of the learners, and the pedagogical frameworks, principles and practices guiding postgraduate distance education for project management in the case study setting. Data have been collected consistent with the principles of grounded theory through document analysis, semi-structured interviews, a web-based survey and focus group sessions. Data analysis has taken place iteratively with the findings from each stage guiding the collection and analysis of data in the subsequent stages. From the overall findings of the data analysis, key principles have been identified to guide future development of a conceptual framework for postgraduate project management distance education in the University.

The findings from this study are embodied in a matrix of 9 key principles and 16 sub-principles, and recommendations flowing from those principles are summarised below:

 Distance education teaching and learning must be acknowledged as a core function of the University consistent with its vision, mission and values;

 Constructive alignment must be achieved across all administrative and academic functions of the University involved in the delivery of distance education;

 Postgraduate teaching and learning at a distance must be recognised as a discrete component of teaching and learning with specific characteristics and resource requirements;

 Administrative and academic policies, regulations and practices must incorporate genuine openness and flexibility as essential attributes of postgraduate distance education;

 Academic staff must be adequately trained and resourced to teach postgraduate programs at a distance;

 Administrative, teaching and learning practices should evolve from a student-centred learning community, driven by an understanding of the postgraduate distance education students in the project management programs, and their needs and objectives as lifelong learners;

 Relevant graduate attributes should be defined for postgraduate students in the project management programs, and learning tasks, activities and assessment should be structured towards development of those attributes;

 Postgraduate distance education students should engage in interactive and collaborative learning tasks and activities in order to attain high-level intellectual skills and abilities that are required for project management practice;

 Postgraduate distance education students should engage in situated learning, where tasks and activities take place in authentic project management contexts that respect students‘ individual learning settings and circumstances;

 Postgraduate programs in distance education should be structured with regard to curriculum and assessment to deliver learning outcomes that are endorsed by all stakeholders in the project management programs, both internal and external to the University.

Keywordsdistance education; postgraduate; project management; University of Southern Queensland; higher education research
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390303. Higher education
390103. Economics, business and management curriculum and pedagogy
Byline AffiliationsFaculty of Business
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