Measuring the benefits of a psychology placement year
Reddy, Peter A.
Placement programmes are considered to provide students with an induction into the work environment and a valuable learning experience. Aston University maintains one of the highest success rates of any UK university for graduate employment and it is thought that the placement year plays a large role in this success. However, the benefits of placements in theoretical subjects like Psychology are often less obvious than those for practical subjects like Optometry or Engineering. Here we compared Psychology students on the 3-year vs. the 4-year sandwich course on a number of attributes using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Final year students who had taken a placement year achieved significantly higher marks in their final year (F 1,407=31.52, p<0.001) and were rated more favourably by academic staff on a measure of transferable skills (F1,43= 11.08, p<0.005). In addition, post-graduation, students who had taken a placement year reported a better idea of their career direction and could be argued to be further on in terms of their career progression and pay levels. Qualitatively, focus groups of placement and non-placement students suggested a number of benefits of taking a placement year, including better time management, confidence and responsibility. Whether the benefits of a sandwich placement in a psychology degree outweigh the costs to students and their families, and the need for further research to identify the scope and longevity of possible early career benefits are discussed. © 2006 Taylor & Francis.
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