Ward, Lisa J., McAdie, Tina M., Bravington, Alison and King, Nigel (2012) The Process of Designing and Analysing a Qualitative Study into Multiple WIL Experiences. In: Proceedings of the Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN) National Conference. ACEN, Australia, pp. 302-306. ISBN 978-0-9805706-2-5

Title: Designing a Qualitative Study into Multiple Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Experiences. Authors: Lisa Ward, Dr Tina McAdie, Alison Bravington, Professor Nigel King
Group / institution: University of Huddersfield.
Conference theme(s) covered: Challenges and Innovations in the design and delivery of WIL
Sub-theme: Impacts of WIL on graduate outcomes and employability
Background / context: Universities are forever looking for the perfect Work Integrated Learning (WIL) model: the one that gives students the best chance of a graduate job, fits in ever changing needs of a diverse student population and can be delivered with minimum administrative overhead to the institution.
Aims: Researchers at the University of Huddersfield have been exploring psychological factors related to WIL as part in a worldwide study led by Drysdale (Drysdale et al., 2010). The initial analysis of our UK quantitative data set indicated that the number of different WIL experiences a student undertook significantly increased self-reported measures of hope, agency and goal-orientation. The aim of this qualitative study is to explore a variety of student placement experiences in more depth to tease apart experiential aspects of their placements and how these relate to the constructs identified as significant in the previous study. This obviously has strategic implications for the way we deliver WIL both at our institution and across the sector.
Method / approach: The use of qualitative techniques aims to move the focus on to the experiential aspects of students’ work placements through focus groups and individual semi-structured interviews. The interviews will potentially use a reflective tool to facilitate dialogue about the abstract concepts measured in the survey. This study will investigate how students relate their work placement experiences to softer skill development identified by our survey research, and how these skills are built up across multiple placements. Was it a case of ‘The more, the merrier’?
Results / discussion: This paper will describe the methodological challenges faced in the design and analysis of our research, including how to facilitate in-depth reflection on work placements, and how to anchor broad concepts such as ‘hope’ and ‘agency’ to specific experiences encountered in the working environment.
Conclusions / implications: The identification of an effective method of reflection and analysis of the experiential details of work placements will allow the student voice to be heard, and illuminate important aspects of their experiences. This could then be used to facilitate teaching and learning in this area.
Keywords: Multiple, WIL, Qualitative, Interviews, Focus groups.
Key references: Drysdale, M., Dressler, S., Johansson K., Zaitseva E., Chiupka C., Clifford E et al. (2011) Academic Attitudes and Behaviours of Work Integrated Learning and Non Work Integrated Learning Students from Four Countries. 17th World Conference on Cooperative & Work Integrated Education (Philadelphia, USA).
Purdie, Fiona, Ward, Lisa J, McAdie, Tina M. and King, Nigel (2011) Does work integrated learning better psychologically prepare British students for life and work. In: Association for Sandwich Education and Training (ASET) Annual Conference 2011, September, 2011, Leeds Metropolitan University.

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