UOPX business programs use the Learn-Practice-Apply model
The curriculum provides variety, builds on existing knowledge and focuses on student confidence
Adult college students don’t learn the same way as their traditional 18-22-year-old counterparts. Often, many already possess life and professional experiences that have shaped their interests and motivations. They are self-directed and have specific goals.
The University’s College of Business & Information Technology is embracing this concept in a recent remodel of its curriculum for courses such as the Bachelor of Science in Business, Bachelor of Science in Accounting, Bachelor of Science in Management, and others.
The College follows the Learn-Practice-Apply (LPA) model that serves as the instructional framework for all College of Business programs and courses. The LPA model focuses on applied learning in a structured and predictable format to help students pursue personal and career aspirations without putting their lives on hold. Through the model, adult learners’ understanding of concepts is measured by successful application at the end of their coursework. It is designed to build on what adult students already know from their work, life or educational experiences, and create confidence through practice.
Dr.Kevin Wilhelmsen, dean of the College of Business and Information Technology, said the model provides a structure for students to understand expectations and ultimately have the confidence to take what they’ve learned into the workplace.
“Today’s adult learners require a refreshed model that provides an active learning environment while also allowing for practical application of knowledge and skills,” he said. “Students will actually learn, and be confident about what’s expected of them. It’s designed to build higher and higher value and interest in learning.”
The approach focuses on learning and ensure a logical, sequential and meaningful course structure. Competencies will be taught through a variety of materials in addition to textbooks and readings, including videos, podcasts, tutorials and infographics.
Students will practice via low-stakes knowledge checks, discussions with participation prompts or through interactive media. They’ll be expected to fail as they practice — something Associate Dean Ahmed Omar said is an important part of the learning process.
“If I’m getting the opportunity to fail multiple times, I’ll learn from my failing attempts,” Omar said.
Once the student masters the objective through learning and practice, the apply piece might involve a multimedia presentation, an executive summary, a portfolio of the student’s work, or an experiential learning project. The objective will be for the student to demonstrate that they can apply what they’ve learned.
This framework also allows students to tackle smaller pieces of projects at a time, helping build confidence in skills as the project moves along. Big projects can be daunting, Omar said. Allowing them to work through a project one step at a time helps students understand how to accomplish each part of a large project.
Part of the educator’s role in the model is to help students build confidence. For instance, while the final application may require a student to create a business plan, they won’t tackle it as an entire plan right off the bat. They’ll start by writing one piece of a business plan.
“Students will actually learn, and be confident about what’s expected of them,” Omar said. “It’s designed to build higher and higher value and interest in learning.”
Joe Aranyosi, associate dean in the College of Business & Information Technology, said to think of the Learn-Practice-Apply model as though you are teaching someone to tie their shoes.
“You can’t give a person a white paper on shoe-tying. It just doesn’t work,” Aranyosi said. “Most people learn naturally by watching and by doing. That’s the fundamental principle behind the Learn-Practice-Apply model.”
A traditional educational approach is focused on pedagogy, Aranyosi said. The student is assumed to be a sponge absorbing information given by the teacher. There is not a lot of engagement or participation.
Learn-Practice-Apply allows adult students to be active participants in their learning. Importantly, the model gives students the chance to apply knowledge and solve real-world problems.
“It’s a lot more pragmatic in nature,” Aranyosi said. “It’s a way of cutting to the chase and building on students’ prior knowledge.”