Speech pathology students' perceptions of workplace-based volunteer placements in an educational setting

Marleen Westerveld, Susanne Garvis

Abstract


Workplace-based learning has long been recognised as crucial in preparing higher education students in allied-health related disciplines for clinical practice. Most of these learning opportunities are embedded in traditional programs and referred to as clinical placements. This paper will explore the perceptions of university students studying speech pathology who volunteered their services in an educational workplace setting. It is interested in what students directly learnt from being involved in workplace-based learning and whether this innovative type of placement provided students with experiences they would not have had in more traditional placement models. Six students engaged in a focus group discussion that was analysed using a content analysis approach to find key meanings. As expected, students’ main motivation to volunteer their service was to add the experience to their resume and thus make them more competitive upon graduation. However, results indicated that the students’ learning outcomes went beyond the students’ initial expectations of gaining experience in administering assessment tasks. More importantly, the volunteer placement provided the students with clear mastery experiences, leading to an improved confidence in their clinical skills and a growth in professional identity. These findings are important for understanding and improving learning experiences within higher education for students who engage in relational work with children and schools.

Keywords


Workplace-based learning; learning outcomes; volunteer placements; speech pathology

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21153/jtlge2014vol5no1art564

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