To read this content please select one of the options below:

Short industrial placements – developing an activity framework to support teaching and learning

Judith K. Shawcross (Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)
Tom W. Ridgman (Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 20 October 2014




This paper identifies the activities to be undertaken by students during short industrial placements. The purpose of this paper is to obtain a better understanding of what students do during their placements and provide a framework that supports both teaching and learning. This research focuses on a masters-level programme that contains a series of four, two week industrial placements where groups of two students work on a real and significant issue for the host company.


A framework, developed from literature, describes a placement in terms of 17 high-level activity groups. A multi-stage action research method was applied to test the framework and develop a more detailed level framework. This used insights gathered from students, tutors and researchers on all 80 placements undertaken during the 2012-2013 academic year.


The 17 high-level activity groups and their configuration in the framework were confirmed. For the 12 process activity groups, 64 activities were identified and included into a detailed level framework. For the five through-placement activity groups some specific activities were captured and further work remains to capture the others.


These complex industrial placements can now be described consistently to students, companies and tutors using an evidence-based framework. Literature searches have not identified any other equivalent research-based frameworks. Other HE programmes also use similar industrial placements and this framework will provide a basis to support these and add to the body of knowledge in work integrated learning.



The authors wish to acknowledge the contributions of the Industrial Systems, Manufacturing and Management MPhil cohort of 2012-2013. This work could not have been completed without them.


Shawcross, J.K. and Ridgman, T.W. (2014), "Short industrial placements – developing an activity framework to support teaching and learning", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 256-270.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles