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Article
Publication date: 20 October 2014

Ruth Brooks and Judie Kay

Abstract

Details

Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-3896

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Article
Publication date: 20 October 2014

Tina Byrom and Verity Aiken

Work-based learning (WBL) is increasingly viewed as important in students’ higher education (HE) experiences. Drawing from the process of revalidating a Joint Honours in…

Abstract

Purpose

Work-based learning (WBL) is increasingly viewed as important in students’ higher education (HE) experiences. Drawing from the process of revalidating a Joint Honours in Education (JHE) programme, the purpose of this paper is to highlight challenges involved in ensuring a meaningful placement experience for students that is fully embedded within their course. Primary challenges included the disparate number of subject strand combinations and concomitant career aspirations, wider university requisites on developing Graduate Attributes and student expectations of their placement opportunities. In broadening the scope and number of placement opportunities, the authors simultaneously increased the partnership links with employers to attract increased student buy-in to the opportunities available to them.

Design/methodology/approach

This case study utilizes staff reflections, stakeholder contributions and student evaluations to illuminate the process involved in revalidating a JHE programme to incorporate increased placement opportunities. A particular focus is placed on consideration of the tensions inherent within WBL opportunities and the ways in which such experiences can be successfully embedded within a HE degree programme. Whilst the authors are able to report on successful integration of placement opportunities in Year 1, the authors utilize student perspectives to gain understanding of the importance, or otherwise, they place on placements through the duration of their degree.

Findings

Whilst placements are widely accepted as a positive feature of HE, inherent tensions emerged from some students who questioned the value and purpose of placements and time away from university. Conversely, employers saw placement and particularly the assessment of students whilst on placement as critical in students’ development into professional workers. The inclusion of placements in HE is therefore problematic, particularly in light of increased tuition fees. This case study, however, suggests that meaningful and disparate placement opportunities can be successfully embedded within each year of an HE degree programme and can be viewed as enhancing the student academic experience.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is located within a body of research that focuses positively on placement/WBL opportunities for undergraduate students, but does raise some emerging tensions linked to the marketization of HE and resulting student perspectives on “value”. Although generic themes can be applied to curriculum design elsewhere, outcomes may be different and linked to differing institutional habituses that influence practice. In addition, this paper reports solely on a single case that has developed a degree course to support the unique needs of its students within a particular context.

Practical implications

The WBL model presented here facilitates student empowerment in tailoring their degree to their interests and career aspirations. It requires effective internal and external partnerships to inform curriculum design and the organization of placements. This paper will therefore be of interest to HE practitioners who are faced with the challenges of providing a broad range of placement opportunities for large and diverse groups of students with differing career aspirations. In addition, it will also be attractive to employers that have strong links with universities and are in the position to influence curriculum design.

Social implications

The focus on employability and the development of key generic skills is interconnected with structures influencing social mobility. The range of students entering HE and the concomitant expectations on their degree to have “value” in the employment “market” on graduation is becoming increasingly important – particularly for students categorized as widening participation. Offering increased opportunities for placements and linking assessment to work-based competencies can therefore be viewed as an integral part of HE's responsibilities to students.

Originality/value

This case study highlights the versatility of WBL that on one hand, requires the academy to embrace alternatives ways of learning, but on the other hand, creates new and innovative ways of engaging students. In addition and critically, it illuminates an approach to embedding WBL into an overarching degree structure that enables students to tailor their degree to their interests and career aspirations.

Details

Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-3896

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 20 October 2014

Dr Ruth Helyer

Abstract

Details

Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-3896

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Article
Publication date: 1 November 2006

Vesa Yli‐Pelkonen, Karoliina Pispa and Inari Helle

Urban stream ecosystems have often been seen as channels of water flow rather than as the valuable parts of an urban green space system providing ecosystem services. The…

Abstract

Purpose

Urban stream ecosystems have often been seen as channels of water flow rather than as the valuable parts of an urban green space system providing ecosystem services. The study seeks to address the importance of urban stream ecosystems from the perspective of urban ecology, human health and social well‐being in the context of urban planning.

Design/methodology/approach

The case study area is the Rekolanoja stream ecosystem in the City of Vantaa, southern Finland. The data from the case study area were gathered from existing ecological studies and by conducting semi‐structured interviews, a resident inquiry and a writing contest.

Findings

The results from the Rekolanoja case show that intense management of the streamside vegetation and treatment of the stream channel in construction projects have decreased species richness and diminished valuable streamside biotopes. However, the stream corridor can function as an important recreational and educational element within the local green space network and thereby become a symbol of local identity.

Practical implications

Planners, decision‐makers and other interest groups can use the findings from this study in determining the values of small urban stream ecosystems in urban development.

Originality/value

The Rekolanoja case indicates that planners and residents see the value of such an aquatic element as increasingly important for urban biodiversity and ecological corridor functions, as well as for local human health and social well‐being, e.g. recreation and stress relief. Future land‐use decisions will show whether a genuine change in the values and thinking of planners and decision‐makers is taking place.

Details

Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal, vol. 17 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7835

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 14 November 2016

Sarah Tudor and Ruth Helyer

Abstract

Details

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, vol. 6 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-3896

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Article
Publication date: 20 October 2014

Nick Wilton

The purpose of this paper is to outline the findings from an exploratory research project investigating perspectives on the recruitment of work placement students among a…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to outline the findings from an exploratory research project investigating perspectives on the recruitment of work placement students among a diverse sample of employers in order to disentangle what constitutes student “employability” in the eyes of these employers.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on data collected in 30 detailed qualitative interviews with managers responsible for the recruitment and selection of work placement students in a wide range of organisational settings.

Findings

The paper identifies multiple facets of employability that are the explicit or implicit focus of student recruitment and highlights the often subjective, unknowable and shifting criteria used to select among similar candidates for employment.

Research limitations/implications

Despite the richness of the data, the restricted sample of managers interviewed limits the degree to which the findings can be generalised. It provides, however, a strong rationale for a greater focus in research and practice on the demand-side of the employability equation.

Practical implications

This paper presents a strong argument for a more nuanced understanding of how employers select among applicants to enable more effective student preparation for the labour market.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the literature seeking to elucidate the range of factors that shape employment outcomes and, in doing so, adds to the political and academic discourse on employability, skills and the role of higher education institutions (HEIs) in preparing students and graduates for the labour market.

Details

Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-3896

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 20 October 2014

Judith K. Shawcross and Tom W. Ridgman

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…

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Originality/value

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.

Details

Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-3896

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 20 October 2014

Matt Edwards

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between work placements and employability, through an analysis of the impact of a work placement on students…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between work placements and employability, through an analysis of the impact of a work placement on students’ self-efficacy.

Design/methodology/approach

The basis of this paper is a large-scale work-based learning module at the University of Birmingham, the “Professional Development Module”. Students completed questionnaires both before and after they undertaken their placements and the results from the questionnaires were compared. These results were then combined with the results of semi-structured interviews undertaken with students.

Findings

The paper's findings support the view that a work placement has a positive impact on students’ self-efficacy, especially in relation to their confidence in making applications and/or attending interviews, and in articulating their skills and strengths.

Research limitations/implications

While the relatively small sample size means that the paper's conclusions must remain provisional, it highlights the need for careers practitioners to encourage students to engage in critical self-reflection. The paper suggests that it is important for careers practitioners and researchers to engage in more collaborative projects in order for a fully rounded picture of the relationship between placements and employability to emerge. The paper shows that more research is needed into the relative impact of short- and long-term placements.

Originality/value

The paper demonstrates the value of assessing students’ views both before and after their work placements so that these views can be compared directly.

Details

Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-3896

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 20 October 2014

Sara Smith and Jan Martin

– The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of creative activity and storytelling in assisting development of students’ reflective ability and critical thinking.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of creative activity and storytelling in assisting development of students’ reflective ability and critical thinking.

Design/methodology/approach

Eight biomedical science students undertaking year-long work-based placements took part in this action research study. A coding scheme was designed to assess students’ reflections initially and at each stage of the study. Intervention activities involved students using mood boards, images and storytelling to assist development of creative learning spaces with a thematic approach employed to analyse both personal and collective reflections. Post-intervention evaluation considered possible long-term impact on students’ reflective ability.

Findings

Students’ pre-intervention reports showed little reflection focusing mainly on competence demonstration and descriptive situation summaries. During the intervention workshops, all students demonstrated both identification of self as a practitioner and a critically reflective approach. However, this was not maintained long term as initial post-intervention reports tended to revert to a more descriptive style of writing suggesting longer-term support is required.

Research limitations/implications

The importance of further research into the long-term usefulness of creative collaborative learning spaces in work-based programmes is suggested.

Originality/value

This is the first study investigating the approach to supporting critical reflection during work placement in biomedical scientists. It is suggested that the current competence-based training programme provides limited opportunities for developing and embedding critical reflection. Where opportunities are provided, such as creative learning spaces, students’ critical reflection was greatly enhanced. However, it appears essential that this approach is maintained throughout training as critically reflective skills developed during collaborative learning have limited transferability to subsequent reflective report writing.

Details

Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-3896

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 20 October 2014

Sarah Tudor and Richard Mendez

In the UK, universities are coming under increasing pressure from government to strengthen university-employer co-operation and engagement in areas such as student…

Abstract

Purpose

In the UK, universities are coming under increasing pressure from government to strengthen university-employer co-operation and engagement in areas such as student placements, graduate internships, knowledge exchange, enterprise and work-based learning. Both the Higher Education (HE) White Paper (BIS, 2011) and the Wilson Review (BIS, 2012) encourage universities to focus on this agenda, putting businesses at the heart of the system alongside students to maximise innovation, promote growth and “ensure students come out of universities equipped to excel in the workforce”. (BIS, 2011, p. 39). The need for universities to engage with employers and build strong relationships to maximise mutual partnership value is integral to this work. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper examines the application of win-win principles (Covey, 1989) to employer engagement activities in HE via two case studies. Following an analysis of the results in each case study, they show that the adoption of such approaches has enhanced employer engagement, consolidated existing employer relationships and led to tangible outcomes such as new student placement opportunities.

Findings

The paper suggests that HE employer engagement activities grounded in Covey's win-win principles are likely to enhance results and relationships with employers than those that omit such principles. The paper concludes by encouraging the utilisation of such principles across the spectrum of HE employer engagement activities.

Originality value

The authors believe this is the first time this method of analysis has been applied to university-employer relationships.

Details

Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-3896

Keywords

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