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To prepare occupationally informed and work-ready graduates, the Australian higher education sector has increasingly incorporated work-integrated learning (WIL) components into its courses. These components take many forms such as practicums, clinical experiences, and internships. They play an essential role in bridging the content studied at universities and professional practice required in workplaces. In some instances, students are charged with finding and organising their own WIL placements. But, primarily it is higher education institutions that direct considerable resources, time, and funding towards sourcing and facilitating these experiences, matched by those of workplaces and students. It is important, therefore, that we evaluate and seek to enhance the effectiveness of these workplace experiences. The focus here is on how the educational potential of these experiences can be enriched through interventions after students have completed their work experiences: post-practicum experiences. In recent years, post-practicum reflective self-assessments have provided some insight into the usefulness of work placements. Higher education students typically receive little guidance on undertaking reflective practice; however many health professional programmes are embedding reflection in assessment tasks, and a degree of critical reflexivity is expected of final year students. In some instances, this type of self-assessment often ends up being descriptive in nature and not a critical account of the impact placement has on the learner and others. Moreover, there exists little evidence in the literature on how post-practicum interventions can ease the connections between the worlds of study and work. To assist building such evidence, this chapter reports and discusses the preferences of 365 higher education students in Australia undertaking work placements in healthcare and social care disciplines, to gain a range of information about how post-practicum interventions might best assist them to learn more about their prospective occupations. The findings of this survey data are presented and discussed here illustrating these students’ preferences for the types, forms, and timings of post-practicum interventions. Most notably is a preference for processes facilitated by teachers or experts over student-organised interventions. Variations in responses between discipline areas provide additional important information about how best to augment and support placement experiences.


School of Education

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Book Chapter

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