Practice and Theory in Systems of Education

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Editorial Board

Volume 8 Number 2 2013
ISSN 1788-2591 (Online)
ISSN 1788-2583 (Printed)

Adult Education and Training, Literacy and Industry Competitiveness,
pages 101-112

The ACIB - Commercial and Business Association of Barcelos - is an entity that, in result of his own vocation, linked to business and commerce, has developed a strong department of adult education and training, considering their role in the enhancement of human resources and their importance for companies competitiveness. We propose in this article reflect on the processes of continuing vocational training of entrepreneurs and workers at firms with which the ACIB has established partnership. Based on the defense of corporate social responsibility in this regard, we pretend to demonstrate the performance that ACIB has been achieving on the implementation of projects in this area, given the fact that companies are consider as workspaces, but also for socialization and learning. Considering the challenges of competitiveness, companies need qualified, motivated and integrated employees. With the modification that has been occurring in the forms of management and the new technologies emerging, with constant changes in business strategy, training chalks its importance and its need are being felt by workers and management of businesses. We will develop a questioning of training practices developed by ACIB, focusing the particular orientation that has been behind this practice. This approach is particularly interesting because we know that the training is geared largely to public cataloged as having low skills and also low levels of literacy. The concern with issues such as literacy and qualifications/skills assumes further/particular importance, according to the fact that vocational training is a process by which individuals acquire knowledge and skills for the performance of official duties, and that the acquisition of knowledge in the professional influences the trainee / employee. We conclude with a characterization of the practical training conducted in Portuguese business reality, describing in more detail those that have been made by ACIB and its levels of success.

Vivian HAJNAL - Michelle PRYTULA - Michael COTTRELL:
Enhancing Equity for Aboriginal Peoples: Adult Basic Education On-Reserve,
pages 113-120

The provision of Adult Basic Education (ABE) On-reserve in Saskatchewan began in 2007-08 with funding from the provincial government. This is a unique program in Canada, as education on-reserve is the responsibility of the federal government. The ABE On-reserve programs were provided by seven Regional Colleges and the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies. The programs were responding to several needs, most of which focus on achieving equity for Aboriginal peoples. The authors engaged in a comprehensive review of the ABE On-reserve programs. Their mixed methods research study employed secondary data, surveys, focus groups and interviews. This paper reports on the information gleaned from the secondary sources and the data collected from the surveys. The results indicate that from 2007-08 to 2010-11, 2700 adult learners were provided with the opportunity to work at Levels 1-4 of the ABE program. Over the four-year history, 45% of adult learners participated at Level 1, Level 2, or assorted preparatory courses. Sixty percent of learners were women. Ninety-one percent of respondents suggested their program was great or good. Each of the programs involved negotiations between a College and a First Nation community, and occasionally included industry partners. These cross-sector collaborations supported the goal of enhancing learner growth and success and did contribute to enhancing equity for First Nation peoples.

Practice-Oriented Finance Education: An Example from the University of Miskolc,
pages 121-125

The Bologna process has changed the higher education training system. During the six or seven-semester BSc training the practice-oriented basic training is available whereby the fresh graduates can cope with the labour market, while students who want to have a theoretical immersion can continue their studies in the master's program. The practice-oriented approach requires new methods in education. It is necessary for higher education institutions to reflect constantly on the labour market needs. A recent survey of our graduates shows that the major deficiency in the training of economics is the lack of a practical orientation. The Department of Finance at the University of Miskolc uses many methods in its training to combat this problem. Starting from their second year, we direct the students more and more towards the solution of practical problems using problem-based learning techniques. Through the problem-based activities and tasks, students have the opportunity to improve their practice-oriented knowledge, which gives them a better chance at finding and holding onto their first job in the profession.

Sándor BOZSIK:
Business Simulation Game as a Tool of Practice-Oriented Education,
pages 126-134

The use of simulation methods for training personnel in different industries is not new. For many years for example, the aircraft and military industries have been using increasing levels of sophisticated simulation technologies to train pilots and operators. Simulations are now also being used to help the academic students. Computer simulations help individual students to practice the business decision making without making huge losses in a real company. In the Financial Department of Miskolc University we have been using business simulation program for BSC students since 2009. The game focuses the duties of a financial manager, but the students can also test their statistical, marketing and strategy-making skills. The game consists of 5 turns; the players' major goal to achieve the highest cumulated profit by the end. During the game they should make their investment decision, order materials, program the manufacturing, employ workers, and salesmen, develop products and markets. They face limited access to loan, capacity and various lifecycles of products. After each turn there is a feedback, which is prepared a group of students from various topics. So this develops their presentation skills. Preparing for presentations, they can load the actual ledges accounts, income statement and balance sheet. If they become familiar with the game rules, they should create business plan for a future turn and they should evaluate their results compared with their budget. The subject of the business simulation is at the last semester of the Accounting-Finance branch, so this is a good test before the students enter the labour market.

Management Accounting and Case Studies in Harmonizing Practical and Theoretical Education: The Birth of a New Subject,
pages 135-145

Case studies are very popular methods worldwide in business education. These methods were first used in universities in the USA and Canada. In these countries the universities not only did case studies, but also held case study competitions for the students of different institutions to compare the level of the education of the different schools. In the last 30-40 years Harvard Business School has taken special steps to develop the methodology. With these methods the students can improve their problem-based thinking, cooperative learning and analytical skills. In the 1990s some Hungarian universities built this method into their teaching materials, and competitions started among different institutes. I first briefly describe the main case study competitions in our region, and after that I give a short review of what kind of knowledge is needed to improve the problem-solving skills of the students - especially from the viewpoint of management accounting. I have taken part in at least 30 different competitions in the last five years, so I will describe the results of my observations. Our faculty is planning to start a new subject with the goals of improving the problem-based thinking, group work and cooperative learning of the students, so the main aim of the study is to show the process of the working out of the material: the birth of a new subject in preparing for case-study based competitions.

Workers' Intercultural Experiences Abroad and their Implications for Tertiary Education,
pages 146-154

As a result of globalisation, Hungary's joining the European Union, technological innovations, educational and labour mobility the requirements of employees have changed. The demand of knowing and understanding of other cultures is of crucial importance in order to achieve successful intercultural communication. It is especially vital in the case of the workers at foreign owned and directed companies, and when employees are sent abroad on business. Therefore, the aim of my research was to find out the workers' intercultural experiences and problems abroad. On the basis of the research results, decisions can be made on how intercultural training at Hungarian tertiary level education has to be adjusted to students' work-related needs. The first part of my study focuses on the results of an empirical study carried out at local companies in northern Hungary in winter 2012. The employees filled in the Hungarian online questionnaire, which included questions on business trips and trainings abroad, and the Hungarian workers' personal experiences and conflicts with foreign colleagues abroad. The second part of the paper presents the offered preparation courses at the University of Miskolc, Hungary. Finally the research results are compared with the offered courses, and on the basis of the findings suggestions are made on how to harmonize the results with the everyday work of teaching in order to design an appropriate curriculum and to give students - further employees - a more marketable knowledge and competence.

Impression Management of High School Students: A Comparative Review,
pages 155-162

This paper focuses on the potential impact on the accuracy of research findings, as a result of Socially Desirable Responding (SDR). Literature and empirical findings confirm two main factors of SDR: self-deceptive positivity, and impression management. The overall objective of the study was to examine the Impression Management (IM) of High School students. Specific objectives of the study were to assess and compare the IM of different Cultures and Genders. Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding (BIDR) was employed to measure the IM of high school students. Study was conducted among 180 high school students (103 boys, and 77 girls) randomly selected from five high schools in Czech Republic (three high schools) and, Sri Lanka (two high schools). These students were following Science, Arts, Economics, Commercial and, Technical studies. The twenty questions (statements) of BIDR (to assess the IM of respondents) were included in the second part of the questionnaire to deviate the respondents' attention to the construct. Findings revealed that even amongst conditions of annonymity, and confidentiality, there exists IM among the high school students. Study focussed on the effect of Gender, and Cultural differences in managing impressions. Though the Mean (M) and Satandard Deviation (SD) values recorded by the Czech high school boys were closer to the normative values of BIDR, the M and SD values of Sri Lankan boys had deviated with an upward trend. This was more evident in the values recorded by the Czech and Sri Lankan high school girls. Study also examined the effect of gender differences in managing impressions. Further research (based on differing demographic stages) will provide insights to the implications of SDR factors, especially of IM. It will be prudent for policy makers, academics, and administrators to focus on the meaning of SDR factors of stakeholders feedback for effective reforms. Conducting large scale studies will facilitate the generalisation of findings.

Developing a New Syllabus for Tourism English,
pages 163-171

Today Tourism English has become a well-established field within English for Special Purposes and such ESP courses are offered increasingly for university BA English students. However, course books are designed for Tourism major students, and not for those who come from other disciplinary fields. English Language and Literature BA students' English language level is higher than that of the average tourism students' but they need an introduction to the basics of tourism theory and the typical genres in the field. Moreover, these genres currently involve a confident use of ICT (info-communication technology), a feature also lacking from modern course books. To fill this niche, a new experimental blended learning course syllabus was devised using the Moodle e-learning platform, with special emphasis on incorporating technical advances into studying features of digital and traditional genres typical of tourism. As evaluation, students were asked to compile a digital portfolio. At the end of the course a feedback was administered, the result of which indicated that students were satisfied with both content and methodology. Future developments should take towards this direction to further students' employability. The present paper describes the content and methodology of the course and summarizes the findings of the student feedback questionnaire.

Challenges in Teaching Foreign Languages to Young Adult Beginners: Russian Language in the University of Ghana,
pages 172-184

In this era of globalization where many adults and children learn foreign languages, teaching and learning strategies differs according to the age, motivation, goals and experience of the learner in previous foreign language learning, among others. Students who are already acquainted with a foreign language, should learn a new foreign language easier, than those who are not. University students in many countries and in Ghana to be specific, learn a new foreign language not as a second (L2), but as a third (L3) or fourth (L4) language. However, in several cases, language instructors meet students who really struggle with the learning of the new foreign language. In this article we examine challenges language instructors may meet in young adult beginner's classes in the teaching of foreign languages based on our experience in teaching Russian language courses such as Beginning Russian, Pronunciation and Basic Reading Skills and Introduction to Russian Studies in the University of Ghana for the past decade. Special attention is paid to the psychological peculiarities of students and instructors, the social background of the students, their attitude toward languages, the relationship between the number of students in class and productivity, etc. The paper also provides good ways of taking students through the first lessons and how to help them to appreciate the language and culture of the people whose language is learnt.

The School - From Educational Services Distributor to Learning Community,
pages 185-191

Although is a key institution in the community, involved in the social and economic development of the region, by providing quality educational services, the school cannot develop today without building relations with the authorities, with the parents, the NGOs or with the representatives of public institutions. This article aims to present the results of a research, starting form the question: is it possible to extend the learning communities from the school to local community level in Romania (by involving all relevant actors in this process: headmasters and principals, teachers, students, parents, NGO representatives, representatives of the City Council, other public institutions)? The focus group method and the analysis of empirical data, collected from 25 directors of representatives schools in terms of management and quality of teaching, led to the conclusion that, although invested with the same social roles, schools operate in different communities and the level of development depends on the community's resources, but also on the type of management adopted by the school. The headmaster of the school should be a reflexive and self-reflexive leader, a process that will lead to a permanent self evaluation, that will make him understand that himself/herself can benefit from opportunities for personal and professional development, to recognize the dynamic potential of others in decision making. Communities in Romania need to make all the efforts to become true communities, to discover the common areas where people must work together in order to identify the specific needs the most efficient and effective directions to be followed in social and professional life.

Natália BORZA:
Problem-Based Learning: An Instruction Method Fostering Learner Autonomy,
pages 192-200

Learner autonomy is of vital importance in language teaching, particularly in reaching better outcomes in language acquisition, in integrating foreign language use, as well as in increasing motivation. How far learners become autonomous greatly depends on the method within whose framework they learn. The present study explores the extent to which a pedagogical approach supporting self-directed learning can be applied successfully in teaching English as a foreign language (EFL). The student-centred instruction method under investigation poses "contextualized, real-world situations" to learners in order for them to "develop content knowledge and problem skills", and has become known as problem-based learning (PBL). Introducing the seven jump model by Schmidt (1983), the paper compares and contrasts PBL, which has not been widely used in foreign language teaching, and task-based language learning (TBLL), which is a well-researched and widely practiced language teaching method. Given that PBL originates from medical sciences, it is heavily researched in its mother field and other related sciences. Providing an overview of PBL in various academic environments through compiling the results of several meta-analyses, the study examines the effectiveness of PBL over the last four decades. Relying on the results of numerous empirical research projects conducted in several fields, the paper discusses the advantages and shortcomings of the method. Concerns that need special attention when implementing PBL are also addressed. Based on the experience and findings of educators and researchers of PBL in various academic fields, the study provides implications for EFL teachers willing to foster self-directed learning.

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Volume 7 Number 4 2012
Volume 8 Number 1 2013