Placement experience and learning motivations in Higher Education: a comparison between practical- and study-based programmes
Authors: Gavin, J.P. and Coleman, I.
Journal: Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Purpose - Placement-based learning is claimed to benefit educational outcomes in undergraduate programmes, with students gaining employability skills and the application of skill-sets in ‘real world’ situations. Most courses incorporate experiential learning; however, work placements remain exclusive to the aims of the academic programme. This report explores the changing learning motivations between students enrolled on: a) a practical-based programme, involving work placement (BA Adventure Education (Ad Ed)), and b) a study-based programme (BSc Sport and Exercise Science (SES)). In addition, motivation was examined between courses at each year.
Design/methodology/approach - A 44 item Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire was completed by first and final year undergraduates studying BA Ad Ed and BSc SES courses in the academic year 2011/12. Questionnaires were triangulated with focus groups, lecturer observations and statistical analyses.
Findings - Learning motivation was influenced by: a) knowledge of academic grades, b) link between theoretical content and work experience, c) opportunity for reflection, and d) multidisciplinary nature of degree programmes. Furthermore, the majority of final year Ad Ed students showed understanding of the job market, degree transferability and career availability upon graduation.
Originality/value - Where placement experience prepares British undergraduate learners for employment and provides insight into career demand, placements may also demotivate, particularly where careers do not necessitate degree qualification.