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Work based business learning: A Murdoch business school case study

Holloway, D.A. and Holloway, D.J. (2010) Work based business learning: A Murdoch business school case study. In: Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN) Annual Conference, 29 September - 1st October 2010, Curtin University, Perth


Background: This paper assesses whether an ALTC sub-project (work integrated learning Business School) special topic unit (BUS2011 Work Based Business Learning) can enhance business students understanding and integration of their University learning with their workplace learning and experience(s). The students are required to be in the workplace already - either part-time or full-time.

Aims: The paper investigates whether work integrated learning can be effectively implemented by using students existing workplace experiences (full-time or part-time) of students enrolled in a relevant business school WIL unit.

Method: The paper adopts a qualitative research approach utilising semi-structured interview questions. Teaching evaluations and learning logs will also be used as part of the data analysis. The learning experiences of the students (there are fourteen students currently enrolled in the unit in semester 1, 2010) were evaluated at the end of the semester through a series of focus group interviews as well as teaching evaluations conducted and completed in May.

Discussion: The students reported universally positive assessments of this WIL unit in their teaching evaluations and in the two focus group interviews conducted at the end of the semester. All students rated this particular unit as one of the best learning experiences they had encountered to date at the undergraduate level within their MBS business programs. They also concluded that the learning topics within the unit had provided them with critical and personally useful understandings into their own workplace experiences and the wider work environment.

The student responses to questions in focus group interviews were very positive. They reported that the weekly learning process of providing an academic overview of both the mainstream and critical theory literature and research findings in each topic area was a particularly useful insight in their overall learning within the unit. The in-class discussions were often intense and (surprisingly) insightful at times, which was a reflection of just how much students had already accumulated useful knowledge in the work environment.

Conclusions: There are three possible outcomes for this MBS unit. First, will be an evidence-based set of curriculum, pedagogy and epistemological principles and practices for effectively designing and implementing WIL in a business school setting. The second outcome is building MBS faculty capacity for: (a) determining how best educational experiences can be structured during work placement experiences; (b) learning how particular kinds of knowledge (i.e. conceptual, procedural and dispositional) can be generated and (c) understanding how students’ personal epistemologies can be developed. The third outcome is the incorporation of feedback from students (through interviews and teaching evaluations) about their specific experiences and learning achievements in BUS2011 Work Based Business Learning in future offerings of the unit.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Murdoch Business School
Conference Website:
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