Supporting students' learning on 'short project' placements.
Keywords:placement, work-based learning, higher education, reflection, blended learning
Much of the research into higher education and its role in work-based learning (WBL), and especially in supporting undergraduate students on placements, has focussed on longer term internships and sandwich courses. Research has also focussed on subject areas that have traditionally been associated with the above; for example, Business, Health, and Engineering. By contrast, the aim of this study was to gather data from students on a much shorter period of placement, categorised as a ‘short project’ (Brennan & Little, 1996). Furthermore, the data recovered was from students studying within the social sciences paradigm, undertaking an undergraduate degree in Education Studies (not teacher education). The social sciences and humanities more generally have not been discussed to any great extent within the context of research on placement or work-based learning (see Smith, Clegg, Lawrence, & Todd, 2007); the subject of Education Studies is not covered at all by previous research. This paper considers the different ways practitioners might blend learning and support university students’ experiential and academic learning in this short project format. The results suggest that even a relatively short period of structured placement can be of significant benefit to students although for many respondents, face-to-face contact in the form of lectures and tutorials is still an important component of a blended approach to WBL.
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