The Development of Professional Judgement Capacity through Activity Led Learning

  • Howard Igarashi

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The unique contribution to knowledge of this research is the study of the development of judgement capacity in apprentice and undergraduate engineering learners in Activity Led Learning (ALL) environments. Four case studies of engineering students investigated the learners' experiences of making judgements in various engineering undergraduate and apprenticeship programmes. A phenomenological research methodology was used to infer the learner's judgements from the learners' dialogues and actions that were observed during the learning activity.

The findings of the study indicate that the experience and incidence of the learners' exertion of judgement is dependent upon the construct of the ALL environment to provide a problem space with potential for disjuncture, and the intentionality of the learners. The learners did not solve problems by a linear progression but repeatedly re-activated experiences and knowledge, exercising judgements until the states of disjuncture were satisfied leading to the conclusion of the problem. Heuristic judgements that may result in decision making errors tended to dominate the problem spaces though their incidence did not appear to be influenced by the technical or socio-technical demands of the project problem spaces.

This thesis concludes that in ALL environments, projects of sufficient length and complexity similar to realistic professional practice, may enable students to acquire the practice of better judgement through disjuncture and by re-activating learning experiences and importing analogies into new problem spaces. However, to acquire skills and knowledge to improve judgement capacity, requires specific and purposeful interventions within ALL that enable the learner to know when heuristic judgements are reliable or otherwise unreliable, and acquiring reasoning strategies to compensate for the effects. It is proposed that in such interventions the learner learns to record their own judgements as they are exerted and to reflect critically on those judgements and their consequences. It also requires that any ALL project that aims to promote judgement capacity has in place assessment instruments that specifically consider the learner effort in the self development of judgement.
Date of Award2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorJohn Davies (Supervisor), Sarah Wilson-Medhurst (Supervisor) & Neil Tsang (Supervisor)

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