As Programme Director for the MSC Performance Analysis at Cardiff Met, I have seen a buck to a recent trend. With any new intake of postgraduate students, it has become very apparent that a pattern has emerged where some students experience accelerated learning in terms of applied process skills and receive employment opportunities far earlier than expected. This translates into a situation where taught modules are completed but dissertations are put on hold. The last twelve months has seen this type of student return to academia in order to complete the remaining elements of the course. The answer may lie in the desire to obtain a vocationally relevant knowledge base that may not naturally exist in their work place.
Even with an economic downturn, the recruitment numbers in 2012 are higher than ever and this reflects the currency with which Performance Analysis is held in the sporting world and the inherent interest that it holds for students. Whilst the core purposes have remained constant for higher education, the balance of power has slightly shifted. Knowledge transfer in Performance Analysis will have a central importance, but more students are demanding a vocational relevance to what is being taught and fully appreciate the work-based learning elements to the degree. Within my own course, computerised performance analysis and technique analysis deliver core process skills and competencies for a performance analyst, whilst research issues and statistics and modeling develop the students’ capability to interrogate the data and compress unwieldy information into key indicators. However, it is the work experience module that provides an opportunity to apply all four of these modules, and in doing so promote a self-sufficient and self-aware student with strong problem solving skills. It has become apparent that balanced work experience takes a student beyond an academic threshold and into a new level of individual development through ‘functioning knowledge’; where students actually see the learning experience as important.
The closer the academic content and vocational application work together the better the quality of academic provision and student employability. The combined effect is a process that allows students to develop more specialised knowledge and competencies. The simple reason is down to real world learning. I judge anything of quality in terms of the sustainability of a track record that has seen Cardiff Met students exist in all walks of high performance sport.
The MSc Performance Analysis at Cardiff Met delivers by contributing to professional learning in the manner in which it balances work-based learning and ‘academic’ learning within overall professional development. I experienced a great example of this yesterday when I observed a postgraduate peer discussion between a team of basketball analysts. Their reflections translated cooperative learning into team-based learning; they recognised the importance of demanding more from the group itself to monitor performance, the need to learn and a situation where they could actually take ownership of their learning.
We ultimately need students who understand both Performance Analysis, and performance itself.
Programme Director: MSc Performance Analysis
Cardiff Metropolitan University