Contributions of Early Work-Based Learning: A Case Study of First Year Pharmacy StudentsReport as inadecuate

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International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, v21 n3 p326-335 2009

Generally work-based learning opportunities are only offered to students in their penultimate year of undergraduate study. Little is known about the benefits and shortcomings of such experiential learning for students in the early stages of their undergraduate education. This is a mixed method study investigating first year undergraduate pharmacy students' perceptions of work-based learning during their vacation. A structured questionnaire was designed to assess students' views on their placement experiences and also to help identify suitable participants for the second part of the study that involved a focus group. Both quantitative and qualitative methods revealed that most students found work-based learning valuable to them. Subject related competences and personal/social skills were recorded where some of these skills could not be acquired within the academic setting. Understanding their professional role and responsibilities and the opportunity to work with other professionals in a working environment were highlighted as positive features of the placement experience. The findings from the study suggest that supplemental in-the-field work experiences in the early stages of students' university education should be made part of a university curriculum, as it helps in their academic development and contributes towards preparing them for future work environments and the job market. (Contains 3 tables.)

Descriptors: Pharmaceutical Education, Undergraduate Study, Pharmacy, Experiential Learning, Summer Programs, Student Attitudes, Focus Groups, Education Work Relationship, Foreign Countries

International Society for Exploring Teaching and Learning. Web site:

Author: Ting, Kang Nee; Wong, Kok Thong; Thang, Siew Ming


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