Encouraging student to reflect on their employment experience
- Publisher: Higher Education Academy
The purpose behind this case study is to share with a wider audience of placement officers, tutors and those who are involved in the management of placement students or employment of graduates, the approach taken to encourage reflective learning in undergraduate placement students at Aston Business School. Reflective learning forms an important foundation of the placement year at Aston Business School, where a professional placement is a mandatory element of the four year degree, for all Home/EU students (optional for International students) who are taking a Single Honours degree (i.e. a fully business programme). The placement year is not compulsory for those students taking a Combined Honours degree (i.e. a degree where two unrelated subjects are studied), although approximately 50% of those students taking an Aston Business School subject opt to take a placement year. Students spend their year out undertaking a ‘proper’ job within a company or public sector organisation. They are normally paid a reasonable salary for their work (in 2004/5 the average advertised salary was £13,700 per annum). The placement year is assessed, carrying credits which amount to a contribution of 10% towards the students’ final degree. The assessment methods used require the students to submit an academic essay relating theory to practice, a factual report about the company which can be of use to future students, and a log book, the latter being the reflective piece of work. Encouragement to reflect on the placement year has always been an important feature of Aston Business School’s approach to learning. More recently, however, feedback from employers indicated that, although our students have excellent employability skills, “they do not think about them” (Aston Business School Advisory Panel, 2001). We, therefore, began some activities which would encourage students to go beyond the mere acquisition of skills and knowledge. This work became the basis of a programme of introductions to reflective learning, mentoring and awareness of different learning styles written up in Higson and Jones (2002). The idea was to get students used to the idea of reflection on their experiences well before they entered the placement year.
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