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Frequently Asked Questions about Applied Academics

Where did AA originate

In 1988, a Royal Commission on Education released a report examining the then current state of education, and the kind of educational world that we wished to create in the years ahead. Throughout the many recommendations and findings was an emphasis on the relevance of education and the need for greater choice, access and flexibility for students. The Sullivan report served as a map to chart the course of education during the next decade. Applied Academics is a major evolutionary leap in education. It's happening across North America and now it's a reality in British Columbia. 

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Why do we need AA?

Research shows that there are several different learning styles for over half of all students. A hands-on approach helps them to connect theory and practice.  In most cases it is not course content that differs, but merely the teaching style.  The idea is to offer students a better chance at success and to make these academic subjects more interesting and easier to learn and remember.

Applied Academics moves away from traditional learning (look, listen, and memorize) to more interactive (doing, applying) education.  For students who learn well in a traditional class, current teaching practices fit their style.

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How do students benefit from AA? 

  • The number one question asked by today's students -"Why am I learning this?"  It's a cry for relevance. Students are looking for knowledge that will help them go on to further education, get a job, and find their place in the modern world. Applied Academics is the answer.

  • Students apply their classroom learning to situations in the work world so they can see the connections between the theory they are learning and where that theory is used outside the classroom.

  • Students can show employers what they can "do" as well as what they "know".

  • Students learn teamwork skills, such as: planning and making decisions with others, working collaboratively on projects, exercising "give and take" to achieve group results, and group goal setting.

  • Students gain transferable employability skills such as "teamwork skills" - employers want people working in a collaborative way on the work site. These include personal management skills, such as a positive attitude, awareness of lifelong learning, self esteem, creativity and confidence from being successful learners.

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How does the workplace benefit from Applied Academics? 

Employers are not only looking for specific skills acquired in an academic setting, but are placing much more emphasis on personal attributes, such as the ability to communicate effectively, work well with others, and display initiative. Technical knowledge gives you an advantage, but you need other skills as well." Michael Bloom of the Conference Board of Canada, MacLean’s Magazine, October 26, 1998.

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How can teachers link what they teach in class with what happens in the workplace?

AWAL stands for Applications of Working And Learning and assists educators in connecting the curriculum they teach in the classroom with how that curriculum is used in the workplace. Teachers interview employers and employees. They pool the information they collect and reflect on essential skills and knowledge across a wide variety of occupations. Using what is learned in a variety of workplace environments, participants develop relevant classroom activities.  These activities reside in a searchable electronic database and are supportive of British Columbia curriculum.

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What is happening concerning building connections with post-secondary institutions?

Ironically, although most post secondary institutions value the skills taught in Applied Academics, the course is not fully endorsed by the universities. They state that it is too early to assess the rigours of these fledgling courses.  Colleges take a softer position. Applied Academics is generally accepted for direct entry into vocational (i.e. trades), career (e.g. business), and Occupational (e.g. technology) programs.  Most colleges do not yet accept TPC 12 for direct entry.  They will, however, allow TPC graduates to write a placement test (Language Proficiency Index).  Students with a C+ or better in TPC 12 should have little difficulty getting a sufficient score to gain entry into college academic and university transfer programs.  Technical programs in colleges such as BCIT have even gone so far as to identify the four applied academic courses  as preferred courses.  Nevertheless, many students are reluctant to take Applied Academics courses for fear that it will reduce their options.  For this very reason, school counselors have been slow to recommend the course.

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How does planning career programs with AA courses as foundations take place?

Career Programs are structured to focus on a career or a career area and combine related course work with a work experience component. 

 Many Career Preparation Programs are now offering Applied Academics courses as critical components of their programs.  Career Programs have a number of requirements. Details are available at the school level.

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Is there any link between AA and Applied Skills?

Yes, the theory behind Applied Skills and Applied Academics are the same.  It provides students with opportunities to focus on hands-on activities and problem solving in applied contexts.  It is intended to help students develop an active, healthy lifestyle and to function effectively in a changing technological environment.

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What is the relationship between the Applied Academics courses and Career Programs?

Career Programs are a program of study offered in British Columbia at the grade 11 and 12 level; they are structured to focus on a career or a career area and combine related course work with a work experience component.  These Career Programs include:

  • Co-op Education Programs

  • Secondary School Apprenticeship, and

  • Career Preparation Programs

  Many Career Preparation Programs are now offering these Applied Academics courses:

  • Applied Mathematics

  • Applied Physics

  • Technical and Professional Communications

 as preferred courses within the Career Program package.  Career Programs have a number of requirements and should be discussed in detail at the school level.

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