Paving a professional pathway: work integrated learning in construction management and nursing and its implications for engineering students

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Simmons, CA, Williams, A & Sher, W 2012, 'Paving a professional pathway: work integrated learning in construction management and nursing and its implications for engineering students' in YM Al-Abdeli & E Lindsay (eds), Proceedings of the 22nd annual Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference on Engineering Education, Fremantle, WA, 5-7 December, Engineers Australia, Barton, ACT, pp. 550-556. ISBN: 9780858259980

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Peer Reviewed



Many disciplines are currently exploring ways to either initiate or improve the engagement of their students in work integrated learning (WIL). The disciplines of Construction Management (Con Mgt) and Nursing are no exception and have collaborated in an Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) research grant entitled ‘Facilitating work integrated learning through skills-enabled e-Portfolios (electronic portfolio platforms were reviewed as part of the project as a potential tool to support and document WIL experiences, these platforms are not reviewed in this paper) in the Con Mgt and Nursing disciplines’ led by The University of Newcastle, Australia. In both of these disciplines, employers expect students to be ‘work ready’ on graduation. Nevertheless, students often question the relationship between the theoretical concepts they are taught at university and their experiences of the ‘real world’. This paper investigates this issue, the nature of student engagement of theory whilst on placement, and offers a possible solution through reflexive practise. To do this, the paper briefly describes the ALTC research project and discusses findings from the quantitative and qualitative data gathered from the competency statements of accreditation professional institutions, focus groups and an on-line survey. Initially, it aligns the competencies Con Mgt and Nursing students garner during their placements and then proposes a reflection framework as a means of closing the gap between theory and practise. This framework offers an example of how students could reflect on their level of competence through reflective questions. The paper then explores students’ own views on their placement experiences, such as methods of integrating practise and students’ feelings of preparedness to enter their professional placement. Engineering disciplines that align with Con Mgt may find value in this study.