Practice based education has a lot of advocates. Training in the field, learning from practitioners, getting to know best practices, engagement with real work, understanding the workplace better, it all is considered highly desirable. Education has to prepare for life (sed vitea discimus); therefore, immersion into authentic, realistic conditions is called for to let students acquire competencies needed for their forthcoming professional life. Many partnerships between educational institutions and businesses are up-and-coming. But do they benefit students and their learning (1) ? It cannot hurt to pose this question from time to time to see if liaisons between schools and companies ‘work’. In essence the exchange between school and work when it comes to student learning revolves around the dilemma of preparation vs. participation. Should a student lay the groundwork first before starting to explore realistic settings; or is it better, more relevant, and wise to step right on into rich environments to learn the basics? During a course of study, normally, a kind of balanced and gradient relation is built-in. Leaving the how aside, the question remains: do student benefit.
An interesting study collected student experiences with immersion into the world of work. It turned out the relationship is full of fears and snags. Among the most worrisome to students is that the workplace is not fitted for inquiries and try out behavior. Workload is also too high to have time to learn. On top of that students have problems understanding the full context of a project in which they get involved. These were three of the main recurrent issues addressed by students .
The point is not to criticize partnerships between school and work; they may be desirable for a lot of reasons. It is more that the workplace is not necessarily a place of learning when it comes to student learning (2). The way work experiences are framed as learning experiences (by students) and how instructors interact with students to create such experiences is what is important here. And that is precisely often the weak part: i.e., to defend your learning agenda as a student against the priorities of work. True partnerships exist right from the start between school, work, AND student.
Source The Relevance of Problem-based Learning for Policy Development in University-Business CooperationSue Rossano, Arno Meerman, Tobias Kesting & Thomas Baaken European Journal of Education, Vol. 51, No. , 2016 DOI: 10.1111/ejed.12165