Transforming work experience in Higher Education

Blackwell, Alison; Bowes, Lindsey; Harvey, Lee; Hesketh, Anthony J. and Knight, Peter T. (2001). Transforming work experience in Higher Education. British Educational Research Journal, 27(3) pp. 269–285.



It has frequently been claimed that work experience can contribute to higher educational standards in schools and in higher education and contribute to the development of a flexible, highly-skilled and enterprising labour force. This potential was endorsed by the Dearing Report on higher education, although there is little research evidence about the contribution of work experience to the higher education curriculum. This article reports on four empirical studies of work experience in higher education, which suggest that work experience is related to a more positive view of the learning experience and to higher employment rates. However, retrospective views of graduates tend to be more positive than those of current undergraduates and there appear to be distinct subject variations in the impact of different types of work experience. It is argued that the potential is more likely to be realised where work experience placements have six characteristics of good practice and where the higher education curriculum consistently encourages students to reflect well on their own learning.

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