'I do and I understand': The importance of reflective placements for the self-perceived work readiness of health sciences students

Giriraj Singh Shekhawat, Sean Sturm, Annette Dunham


POPLHLTH 302: Health Service Placement is a community health placement program that forms the capstone course for the Bachelor in Health Sciences (BHSc) at the University of Auckland. It aims to enable Population Health students to develop through experience the competencies that they will need to be employed in a broad range of roles in the health sector, including health policy analysis, health management, health information and health promotion. It provides students with the opportunity to gain a critical understanding of an organisation through day-to-day engagement with the provision of health services, and thereby to transition from university to work and to develop life-long learning attitudes and skills. Eighty-three students enrolled in the course completed a questionnaire before and after their placement about their skills, confidence and readiness to participate in the health workforce, and their knowledge of it and the health needs of the NZ population. A mixed methods analysis of the data confirmed that students’ perceptions of their work-readiness improved over the course of the placement, in particular, where transferable skills such as confidence, time management, networking, the application of theory in practice, and team work were concerned.


experiential learning; work readiness; reflective practicum; health sciences; higher education

Full Text:




AC Nielsen Research Services (2000). Employer satisfaction with graduate skills: Research report. Retrieved from: http://hdl.voced.edu.au/10707/67824

Analoui, F. (1993). Training and transfer of learning. Aldershot: Avebury.

Beard, C., & Wilson, J. P. (2013). The power of experiential learning: A handbook for education, training and coaching (3rd ed.). London: Kogan Page.

Boyatzis, R. E. (1998). Transforming qualitative information: Thematic analysis and code development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Caballero, C., & Walker, A. (2010). Work readiness in graduate recruitment and selection: A review of current assessment methods. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 1(1), 13–25.

Caballero, C., Walker, A., & Tyszkiewicz, M. (2011). The work readiness scale (WRS): Developing a measure to assess work readiness in college graduates. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 2(2), 41–54.

Chartered Management Institute. (2002). Graduate key skills and employability. Retrieved from: http://www.managers.org.uk/institute (accessed March 7, 2004).

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101.

Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioural sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Crebert, G., Bates, M., Bell, B., Carol, J., & Cragnolini, V. (2004). Developing generic skills at university, during work placement and in employment: Graduates’ perceptions. Higher Education Research and Development, 23(2), 147–165.

Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. (2009). Higher education at work: High skills: High value. London: Development for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Eley, D. S. (2010). Postgraduates’ perceptions of preparedness for work as a doctor and making future career decisions: Support for rural, non-traditional medical schools. Education and Health, 23(2), 1–13.

Gardner, P. D., & Liu, W. Y. (1997). Prepared to perform? Employers rate work force readiness of new grads. Journal of Career Planning and Employment, 57(3), 32–56.

Hager, P., & Holland, S. (2006). Graduate attributes, learning and employability. The Netherlands: Springer.

Harvey, L., Moon, S., & Geall, V. (1997). Graduates’ work: Organisational change and students’ attributes. Birmingham: Centre for Research into Quality (CRQ) and Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR). Retrieved from: http://www.ce.acu.uk/crq/publications/gw/gwcon.htm

Jackson, D. (2013). Business graduate employability - where are we going wrong? Higher Education Research and Development, 32(5), 776–790.

Moon, J. (1999). Reflection in learning and professional development. London: Kogan Page.

National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education (1997). Higher education in the learning society: Report of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education. London: HMSO.

Nove, A., Snape, D., & Chetwynd, M. (1997). Advancing by degrees: A study of graduate recruitment and skills utilisation. Department for Education and Employment Research Report RR33. London: HMSO.

Sawilowsky, S. (2009). New effect size rules of thumb. Journal of Modern Applied Statistical Methods, 8(2): 467–474.

Schön, D. A. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner: Toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Smith, K., Clegg, S., Lawrence, E., & Todd, M. J. (2007). The challenges of reflection: Students learning from work placements. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 44(2), 131–141.

Stewart, J., & Haswell, K. (2013). Assessing readiness to work in primary health care: The content validity of a self-check tool for physiotherapists and other health professionals. Journal of Primary Health Care, 5(1), 70–73.

Wilton, N. (2012). The impact of work placements on skills development and labour market outcomes for business and management graduates. Studies in Higher Education, 37(5), 603–620.

Zuber-Skerritt, O. (2015). Critical reflection. In O. Zuber-Skerritt, M.A. Fletcher, & J. Kearney, Professional learning in higher education and communities: Towards a new vision for action research (pp. 76–101). London: Palgrave.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21153/jtlge2017vol8no1art655


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License | ISSN 1838-3815