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Exploring practice

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Do you regularly find yourself asking questions of your work setting? Have you ever reflected on how effective aspects of your practice provision are? Exploring practice enables you to examine in detail a project theme pertinent to your practice. This unique opportunity promotes development of personal and professional learning in evidence-based practice and culminates in detailed action planning, exploring implications for change and improvements in practice. This online module is readily accessible to busy practitioners through its learning and teaching strategies which seek to facilitate and support your exploration of practice. It is open to an inter-professional audience, including youth justice workers, nurses and allied health professionals and social workers.

What you will study

This module is about developing your ability to negotiate, plan and undertake a work-based project, and is designed to build on experience and develop practice. It will develop your confidence and competence as a practitioner, enabling you to assess evidence and draw appropriately on findings. You will learn how to handle uncertainty and change and throughout the module you will relate learning to practice. The module is relevant to youth justice, social work, nursing and the allied health professions. To complete the module successfully you need recent relevant work experience in a field of health, social care or social work. For example, this might be in the capacity as a volunteer – contact us for further advice.

This module provides you with the skills needed to work independently and to interrogate critically the evidence of your practice in terms of knowledge and change creation. It provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate your learning within the workplace through an independent learning journey culminating in a written project of 7000 words.

The module will allow you to explore an area of your practice that requires improvement, you will ‘scope’ this through professional discussion and review of current published research literature. You will not be required to conduct primary research or implement any changes in practice within the scope of the module but will be asked to produce a plan about ‘how’ you would implement these changes in the future as part of the final module assessment.  

You will develop the following key skills on this module:

  • ability to learn in new and unfamiliar situations from differing sources and experiences
  • appreciation of multiple perspectives and their effect on decision making
  • ability to manage complexity and critically analyse, synthesise and evaluate new information in the context of its use
  • ability to use information literacy, ICT tools and numeracy skills as appropriate to find, evaluate, process, present and communicate information
  • ability to frame and address issues appropriate to your work, being aware of their context and environment
  • independently plan, monitor, evaluate and improve your own learning and performance.

The central learning resource for this online module is its website. You will use it to plan and conduct your studies via the interactive learning guide. This guide, coupled with the online calendar, will provide the ‘road maps’ for the progression of your project. You’ll be directed to online tools that are provided to support your project development, and collaboration with your peers will form an essential component of your learning journey.

Entry requirements

This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at OU levels 1 and 2 and challenge you with advanced topics at undergraduate level. They are equivalent to the final year of an honours degree. These modules are also suitable if you already have a degree and want to update your knowledge. 

Some study at OU level 2 would put you in a strong position to enjoy this module and rise to its challenges. Its academic content has a direct bearing on practice, so you should have relevant experience to draw on to complete the module activities and assessment. 

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

What's included

This module is delivered entirely online, and you’ll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access.

All the module teaching and library resources are available online through the website. These are available in alternative formats for download if required.

Computing requirements

You'll need a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of 64-bit Windows 10 (note that Windows 7 is no longer supported) or macOS and broadband internet access.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile App will operate on all current, supported, versions of Android and iOS. It's not available on Kindle.

It's also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook, however, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you'll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You’ll be supported by an OU tutor who will offer online tutorials on a tutor group basis and later in the module, on a one to one basis . They will offer support via other methods such as email. You’ll engage with your tutor group through online group discussions facilitated by your tutor. Your tutor will provide individualised support in preparation for and feedback on your assignments via the tutor group forum, assignment feedback, online group tutorials, online one to one tutorials (later in the module) and other methods such as email.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system. The TMAs are summative and contribute towards your final assessment score; your tutor will provide you with feedback relevant to the progression of your independent project. These assignments are compulsory as they provide valuable feedback on your progress toward the EMA. The end-of-module assessment (EMA) is a 7000-word project report, which is submitted online through the eTMA system.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying K316 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Exploring practice starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module starting in October 20201. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2023.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school