Drawing on positioning theory, the purpose of this paper is to characterize the activities and positions of students and supervisors at workplaces and on-campus skills…
Drawing on positioning theory, the purpose of this paper is to characterize the activities and positions of students and supervisors at workplaces and on-campus skills training sites across the higher health professional educations of medicine, sports science, and nursing. Furthermore, the study explored the impact of work-based learning (WBL) and skills training on students’ personal professional identity development.
A qualitative case study was conducted across six workplace sites and three on-campus skills training sites with 20 days of observation and 21 in-depth interviews. The data were inductively analyzed resulting in the identification of 12 characteristic narratives. This was followed by abductive analysis using Harré’s concept of positioning as the theoretical framework.
Across the three higher health professional educations, work-based and on-campus skills training sites were characterized by two learning spaces with distinct positions, rights, and duties. The WBL sites gave the students rich opportunities to position themselves, act independently, and behave as professionals seriously striving for mastery. On the on-campus sites, the students behaved less seriously, and were conscious of their rights to try out things, get support, and have fun.
The authors recommend that future studies explore aspects of professional identity formation due to its consequences for curriculum design, including the distribution of simulated spaces and professional spaces in students’ learning environments.
This study adds to the empirical evidence and conceptual frameworks of personal and shared professional identity development in the field of skills and WBL, and it underlines the ongoing value of Harré’s positioning theory in educational research.