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ERIC Number: EJ767309
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 20
Abstractor: Author
ISSN: ISSN-0040-0912
Workplace Learning and Higher Education in Finland: Reflections on Current Practice
Virolainen, Maarit
Education & Training, v49 n4 p290-309 2007
Purpose: The purpose of this article is to describe the organization of workplace learning in Finnish polytechnics, the models that have been developed for this purpose, and the challenges presented. Design/methodology/approach: First, the models for embedding workplace learning in the curriculum are described and analysed. Second, the conflicting factors encountered in building the network of expertise to support students' workplace learning in the cooperation of polytechnics and working life are investigated. Third, suggestions are made regarding some of the questions raised by the introduction of connectivity that might be explored to better understand the similarities and differences between workplace learning and learning at school (polytechnics). The study was carried out in five Finnish polytechnics in 2002-2006. It focused on the bachelor' s degree programmes in the fields of social services, business administration and engineering. Data were collected through thematic interviews conducted with teachers supervising and organising workplace learning. The different models utilized in the five polytechnics with respect to the three educational fields are incorporated into a single holistic model on the basis of a theory-led content analysis of the interviews. Further analysis of the interviews indicates the institutional barriers and obstacles that exist to the development of placements. Findings: Placements in working life by Finnish polytechnics exhibit considerable variety. In addition the cultural practices that guide and limit the organising of placements are presented. These include the location of placement in the curriculum, negotiation of students' contracts, guidance in the workplace and practices, assessment including self-assessment, student remuneration, and rewards for employers. The development of quality in workplace learning is heavily dependent on local initiative, as introducing connectivity is a practical process that has to be implemented and reflected on by networks of expertise. The debate on similarities and differences of workplace learning and learning in education could be enhanced by a more detailed exploration of the questions on what is learned and where. Originality/value: The description given here of the organisation of placements can be utilized by higher education institutes and polytechnics as a tool in reflecting on their own models. Furthermore, the questions presented here within a framework grounded in a socio-cultural approach may be used by teachers and developers of education as stimuli in developing quality assurance tools and in analysing the strengths and weaknesses of their placement systems. (Contains 1 table, 2 figures and 1 note.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Finland