Blended Learning for Professional Advancement: a WBIS Success Story

Posted on 10th April 2015

Work Based and Integrative Studies (WBIS) is the University of Chester’s innovative negotiated work-based learning programme.  By allowing students to customise their studies, WBIS promotes both academic and professional excellence, simultaneously boosting self-esteem.  Significant career advancement and greater job satisfaction often result - as epitomized by Jacqueline Wendy Bendle.

A Band 5 Directorate Support Manager for Wirral University Teaching Hospital (WUTH), Jackie joined WBIS in October 2009.  Her CV revealed extensive experience in administrative and junior managerial posts, but no HE qualifications in support.  Jackie felt professionally stalled – a dependable manager but, lacking self-confidence and assured interpersonal skills, an uncomfortable leader.

The WBIS Self Review and Skills & Approaches modules introduced Jackie to critical reflection, theories of self-analysis, perceptual positioning and team working, revealing pre-conceptions, misconceptions and ill-judged self-imposed restrictions which were stifling her professional development.  ‘It wasn’t until I began to examine my experiences through critically reflective essays that I realised the true benefit of experiential learning.’  Jackie achieved first-class grades for both, and greater confidence in academic writing helped accelerate her progress through APEL claims.  Another level 4 ‘first’ in Negotiation Skills and level 5 distinctions in Stress Management, Communication Skills and Workplace Teams were noted by WUTH, always keen to promote and reward talent.  Jackie was given more responsibility for change management, feeding further successful APEL claims and underpinning her promotion to Senior Business Support Manager (Band 6) in August 2011.

A better skills balance raised Jackie’s self-confidence.  ‘I became a lot more involved in staff management, dealing with difficult cases including bullying allegations.’  Judicious level 6 module choices including Influence, Persuasion and Counter Manipulation helped secure her promotion to Assistant Directorate Manager (Band 7) in April 2013.  Jackie then completed an outstanding Negotiated Experiential Learning Module concerning improving service efficiency, and a robust APEL claim, demonstrating her effective engagement with resolution theory when applying WUTH’s Bullying and Harassment Policy.

 ‘My progress through WBIS has helped shape the professional I am today.  Greater confidence in my academic skills allowed me to delve deeper into my experiences, gaining new insights, fresh thinking and better ways of working as a capable and self-assured manager and leader.‘

In March 2014, Jackie became Service Manager with Virgin Care, a strategic post with rich career prospects.  She completed a first-class honours degree (WBIS) in March 2015.