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Preparing for practice: how internships and other practice-based learning exchanges benefit students, industry hosts and universities
AICCM Bulletin (2011)
  • Sarah Richardson, University of Melbourne
  • Marcelle Scott, University of Melbourne
While there is considerable evidence about the crucial role of practice-based learning exchanges (such as internships, placements and on-country learning) in ensuring that university students are prepared for practice when they graduate, the literature is extremely one-sided. Focusing primarily on learning outcomes for students, it tends to ignore several key elements of the internship experience. In particular, the roles and perspectives of the hosts who supervise students in their practice are frequently overlooked. The research presented in this paper draws on the findings of a national research project which investigated these issues as part of a broader cross-disciplinary enquiry which sought to better understand the pedagogy of practice-based learning exchanges (PBLEs); the conditions which enhance, and those which constrain effective learning exchange; and the outcomes of the exchange for all involved. Data was collected from hosts, alumni and students who had participated in PBLEs in seven coursework programs from three Australian universities. Host organisations included hospitals, community health and legal services, galleries, museums, libraries, archives, government agencies, Indigenous tourism operators, peak bodies and national and international nongovernmental organisations. This paper focuses on findings from the research with specific relevance to students and hosts involved in internships that form part of the masters degree in cultural materials conservation at the University of Melbourne. In summary, the research shows that the motivations of hosts in agreeing to supervise students are strongly collegial and altruistic; many hosts recognise the two-way learning exchange elements of the mentoring relationship they develop with students, acknowledging that it can lead them to critically evaluate how they work; a number acknowledged the benefit of having work completed that might not otherwise be achieved. Most hosts value the opportunity to engage with the university, and many seek greater involvement in course design and, in some cases, guest teaching. Criticisms and weaknesses of the internship program relate to hosts’ uncertainty about the university’s expectations; a lack of information provided in advance about the student, their skills and interests; and a lack of feedback after the placement. This paper expands on these findings and concludes by suggesting ways to optimise internships in order to enhance outcomes for students, hosts and coordinating universities.
  • Internships,
  • Practice-based learning,
  • Learning exchange,
  • Pedagogy,
  • Conservation
Publication Date
Citation Information
Sarah Richardson and Marcelle Scott. "Preparing for practice: how internships and other practice-based learning exchanges benefit students, industry hosts and universities" AICCM Bulletin Vol. 32 (2011)
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