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The idea of academia and the real world and its ironic role in the discourse on Work-integrated Learning
University West, Department of Health Sciences, Section for health promotion and care sciences. (LINA)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7028-9469
2020 (English)In: Studies in Continuing Education, ISSN 0158-037X, E-ISSN 1470-126X, Vol. 42, p. 1-16Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Work-integrated Learning (WIL) seeks to bridge the gap between ‘scholastic’ training and work. This study explores the ironic fact that the WIL discourse remains formed by the idea of academia and the real world, an idea that in decisive ways creates this gap. A genealogical discourse analysis of how this idea operates in 79 present and past official documents promoting the Cooperative Education (Co-op) WIL model is used to explore this ironic fact. Two accounts of this idea are dominant in both present and past documents – the deficit account, which merely creates the stated gap, and the collaborative account, which both creates and bridges this gap. I emphasise that the Co-op and other standard WIL models embody and (re)produce the stated idea because they locate ‘scholastic’ training outside the ‘real world’. This separation dates back to scholè – the ancient Greek school that aimed to disconnect ‘school’ from ‘work’. Because WIL has the opposite aim, I argue that this separation is in fact counterproductive for WIL. Finally, I argue that locating WIL in a third place outside university and working life can be a way of avoiding the separation that (re)produces the idea of academia and the real world.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2020. Vol. 42, p. 1-16
Keywords [en]
work-integrated learning, cooperative education, genealogy, irony
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Work Integrated Learning; NURSING AND PUBLIC HEALTH SCIENCE, Public health science; SOCIAL SCIENCE, Pedagogics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-13040DOI: 10.1080/0158037X.2018.1520210ISI: 000519570700001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85053891910OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-13040DiVA, id: diva2:1259057
Available from: 2018-10-26 Created: 2018-10-26 Last updated: 2020-11-26Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Learning 'theory' at university and 'practice' in the workplace: A problematisation of the theory-practice terminology that the dualistic design of Work-integrated Learning institutionalises
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Learning 'theory' at university and 'practice' in the workplace: A problematisation of the theory-practice terminology that the dualistic design of Work-integrated Learning institutionalises
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Work-integrated Learning (WIL) is a label for a form of higher education whose usual design in many degree programmes involves splitting students' education into on-campus training and work placements. This thesis focuses on a theory-practice terminology that is reflected in this WIL design and spreads a dualistic thinking with a basic message. The message is that on-campus and placement-based training teach you opposite bases for learning a profession, namely an abstract research-based knowledge called 'theory' and a concrete work called 'practice'. This thesis argues that when this dualistic thinking is spread to students, it primarily contributes to the creation, but also to the bridging of the gap between these forms of training that the said WIL design seeks to bridge for them, the so-called theory-practice gap. Based on this argument, the thesis has two overall aims: to problematise (1) the dualistic nature of spoken and written instances of the theory-practice terminology and of the usual WIL design, and (2) the possibility of establishing physical and/or virtual countersites to the usual WIL design. Such sites are not established institutional arrangements at present. The idea is that they should be set up not to embody the dualistic notion that theory is the abstract research-based knowledge brought from campus to 'practice', but to offer a non-dualistic experience that would provide a key opportunity to avoid creating the so-called theory-practice gap for students. I refer to an experience of how theory is a form of knowledge that already exists in – and is created through – the daily work practices of a profession in various shapes and forms.

To achieve the first aim, this thesis conducts Foucault-inspired discourse analyses of how four ideas of the theory-practice terminology spread dualistic messages. The ideas are explored together in three studies. Study I explores two ideas that interviewed students voiced when asked about the usual WIL design. These are the idea of theory vs. practice as the point of departure for learning and the idea of theory and practice as harmonious points of departure for learning. Using a genealogical discourse analysis, study II traces the idea of academia and the real world while study III examines the dualistic meaning that the theory-practice terminology ascribes to the graduate employability idea, backwards in time from the present. The empirical basis for this consists of present and past documents that three higher education institutions have used to promote the Cooperative Education (Co-op) model of the usual WIL design to their prospective and existing Co-op students. Together, the three studies show how the four ideas include accounts that spread antagonistic and/or harmonious messages. The former messages imply that on-campus and placement-based training do not combine well because 'theory' and 'practice' are not a good match, while the latter imply that these forms of training combine perfectly because 'theory' and 'practice' are a perfect match. The thesis concludes that antagonistic messages only contribute to creating the so-called theory-practice gap for students, whereas harmonious messages contribute to both creating and bridging the gap. To achieve the second aim, the three studies introduce a discussion on a) what countersites to the usual WIL design could look like and b) how they could possibly avoid creating this gap. This discussion is developed in the discussion chapter of this thesis, where these countersites are referred to as third places for learning professions. A focus of this discussion is to problematise the fact that sites of this nature are difficult to establish because the theory-practice terminology they must avoid incorporating to offer a non-dualistic experience is so established that it is easily used out of habit when trying to establish such sites.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Trollhättan: University West, 2020. p. 161
Series
PhD Thesis: University West ; 38
Keywords
Work-integrated Learning; theory-practice terminology; dualism; discourse analysis; genealogy; third place
National Category
Learning
Research subject
Work Integrated Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-16063 (URN)978-91-88847-69-0 (ISBN)978-91-88847-68-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2020-12-18, Albertssalen och zoom, Trollhättan, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Delarbete III är accepterat men ännu ej publicerat och exkluderas av den anledningen från den elektroniska utgåvan 

Available from: 2020-11-27 Created: 2020-11-26 Last updated: 2023-06-04

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