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Problematising the theory-practice terminology: a discourse analysis of students  statements on Work-integrated Learning
University West, Department of Health Sciences, Section for health promotion and care sciences. (LINA)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7028-9469
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division of Psychology, Pedagogy and Sociology. University of Gothenburg, Rigshospitalet, Umea University, University of California San Francisco. (LINA)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5259-0538
2019 (English)In: Journal of Further and Higher Education, ISSN 0309-877X, E-ISSN 0013-1326, Vol. 43, no 10, p. 1363-1375Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study uses a Foucault-inspired discourse analysis to examine two ideas about learning which reinforce the terminology whereby theory means campus-based training and practice means work placements. The purpose is to problematise this theory–practice terminology and provide scope for a non-dualistic alternative. The ideas examined 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. These ideas were voiced by interviewed students who discussed the usual design of Work-integrated Learning (WIL) whereby students go to university to learn ‘theory’ and into working life to learn ‘practice’. The analysis shows how the ideas are formed by different ranking orders between theory and practice which are mutually exclusive, while also working together to reinforce the theory–practice terminology. The discussion on how a non-dualistic terminology can emerge highlights how the usual WIL design forms a dualistic setting where the theory–practice terminology thrives and how designing WIL at a third place between university and working life can provide scope for the terminology we seek.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 43, no 10, p. 1363-1375
Keywords [en]
Learning, workplace learning
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Work Integrated Learning; SOCIAL SCIENCE, Pedagogics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-12980DOI: 10.1080/0309877X.2018.1483016ISI: 000489944100004Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85050547824OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-12980DiVA, id: diva2:1259059
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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Björck, VilleJohansson, Kristina

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