Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
Bachelor thesis as practice-based WIL education and the role of supervision
University West, School of Business, Economics and IT, Division of Urban Planing and Development. (LINA)
University West, School of Business, Economics and IT, Division of Urban Planing and Development. (LINA)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2074-8396
2022 (English)In: International Conference on Work Integrated Learning: Abstract Book, Trollhättan: University West , 2022, p. 68-69Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Bachelor thesis writing and supervision as potential practice-based WIL 

In Sweden, students are required to write a bachelor’s thesis in both vocational and academic university programs, though the writing and supervision process differ across disciplines and institutions. In our research on undergraduate education and work-integrated education (WIE) in the social sciences, we conceive of thesis writing and supervision, as performed in the undergraduate program, International Program in Politics and Economics (IPPE) at University West, as an example of practice-based education. While studying the educational practice of thesis writing from the viewpoint of work-integrated learning (WIL), we pose two sets of questions: how and what kind of knowledge or skills are required and acquired, and what is the role and kind of supervision involved throughout the research-thesis writing process? The second set of questions is whether the practice of thesis writing could be classified as WIE, and ultimately, if WIL is achieved; more precisely, we are investigating what kind of learning is acquired and processed, and in what ways the “knowledge” acquired through this kind of research practice is transferable to “work-life” and result in “life-long-learning”? Is the thesis writing bridging the “gap” between the university and post-graduate professional careers? To answer these interrelated questions, we construct a theoretical framework that conceptualizes work-integrated supervision as cognitive apprenticeship and dissects the supervision process which aims to develop a particular set of skills that will align (i) the aim of highquality academic university education, with; (ii) the new (mass-) diversity of student population, with; (iii) the increasing emphasis on employability and career advancement.

Material and method

Our specific object of study is an academic program in political science that according to national curriculum regulations must contain a scientific research thesis, which is closely followed by supervisors assigned to student groups of two. It is a hands-on approach to supervision (Sinclair, 2004) following a strict timeline and structure as well as support. We investigate thesis-writing as a practice, the role of the supervisor therein, and the relation between thesis writing, the curriculum, and work-life. The primary data in this qualitative small-N study is gathered by a combination of interviews and participant observation. We conducted 15 semi-structured interviews and participated in 22 supervision sessions with 4 thesis groups. From the data collected, we identified p atterns, commonalities, and differences around how the students experience the practice of writing a thesis and its relation to their work life. 

Results and indications

The findings indicate that bachelor thesis writing and supervision in the form that it is practiced at IPPE is WIL. This specific model of supervision is that of an apprenticeship. While components of traditional (or vocational) apprenticeship is included in the relationship (especially when it comes to teaching/learning the actual p ractice of research), cognitive apprenticeship with a variety of methods to allow the apprentices to observe and actively engage in the practice through the supervisor’s strategic push toward independence (Collins, Brown, and Newman 1987) provides the basis of the relationship. The one-to-one hands-on cognitive apprenticeship supervision in the program is by far the most extensive task through which the students learn how to reflect on practice and become professional in what is a wide-open career trajectory. WIL is attained through working closely with a professional in their professional capacity as his/her apprentice and being trained in that very profession (as researchers) as a result of which they acquire the skills required for an increasingly intensive knowledge economy and the public sphere. The supervision model designed as an educative, supporting, and controlling process of seven steps ranging over 20 weeks complements the academic social science education students receive up to that point sealing the acquisition of epistemological skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, capacity for relearning, and coworking in groups as well as boosting ontological skills of time and project management in becoming confident professionals. 

Implications and contributions

While there have been previous studies on conceptualizing supervision within a WIL framework, they mostly focus on the supervision of students in the workplace/place of internship in relation to the work practices (Cooper et al., 2010), or supervision, mentorship, and feedback at the workplace (Eraut, 2010), rather than the academic thesis writing. These studies, therefore, focus on supervision more as a WIE practice, i.e., supervision with the intention of making sure that workplace experience of the supervisee serves certain learning outcomes (Billett, 2019), rather than as a WIL practice for learning to process experience for knowledge production. Our finding that the specific model of bachelor supervision within the context of WIL, based on the relationship between the supervisor and the supervisee(s) as a relationship of cognitive apprenticeship achieves WIL, is thus a novel contribution to the field. 

Thesis writing, at all levels of higher education, is considered the pinnacle of the learning process at that particular level, where the students get the opportunity to turn the core knowledge they acquired from coursework into a reflective experience. The way thesis writing is handled, therefore, seems to have special relevance from a WIE perspective, since the way this reflective experience is organized and guided by the supervisor has a significant impact on the extent to which the candidates can attain WIL: learning from experience as independent researchers and acquire the ability for “reflective” knowledge/learning (Billet 2012) on both practice and learning, as required for “progressive growth” (Dewey 1976-1983; see also Fleming & Haigh, 2018), as well as “critical reflections” (Trede & Mcewen, 2012). The result from our study thus contributes to the problem of knowledge transferability between the university and “work-life” (Eraut, M., 2010) be resolved through a “transformational” WIL model of academic supervision along the lines of Liberal Arts education’s broad appeal to knowledge and critical awareness that both question, analyze, and better prepare a diverse set of students for the knowledge economy, and a labor market that regularly sees people move in and out of different careers, not least as skills and even professions become obsolete (Crisp 2019; DeNis et al., 2003; Gannaway et. al., 2017).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Trollhättan: University West , 2022. p. 68-69
Keywords [en]
Practice-based education, supervision, bachelor thesis writing, Work-integrated learning, traditional apprenticeship, cognitive apprenticeship
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified Pedagogy Learning
Research subject
Work Integrated Learning
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-19564ISBN: 9789189325302 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-19564DiVA, id: diva2:1725612
Conference
WIL'22 International Conference on Work Integrated Learning, 7-9 December 2022, University West, Trollhättan, Sweden
Note

The general theme of the conference is: “WIL in the service of society”

Available from: 2023-01-11 Created: 2023-01-11 Last updated: 2023-01-31Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text in DiVA

Other links

Abstract Book

Authority records

Dahlquist, KarlInal, Tuba

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Dahlquist, KarlInal, Tuba
By organisation
Division of Urban Planing and Development
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specifiedPedagogyLearning

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar

isbn
urn-nbn

Altmetric score

isbn
urn-nbn
Total: 337 hits
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf