Internships: Meeting Stakeholder Demand for Vocational Curriculum? Benefits and Costs of PBL-Based Practice Learning
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This chapter provides a critical assessment of the use of internships and discusses how one model of practice learning works. Practice learning is often mentioned as superior to pure academically based learning, and students demand more practice elements teaching. This makes education institutions adopt and market practice learning models uncritically as integrated parts of their curriculum. However, there are differences in the learning effects from different types of internships, and uncritically adopting any internship model and any volume of learning through practice is likely to be counterproductive. The type of university students-industry collaboration I describe is positively evaluated by participants, and seems to spur problem-solving capacity, which is likely to be productive in the specific collaboration, in the longer term, and potentially in other contexts. I argue, though, that the benefits of this type of learning are not harvested without investments and costs. Hence, perceived benefits should be evaluated against the associated costs including the learning that the internship substitutes. In addition to questioning the universal benefits of internship programmes, I identify problems in measuring the outcomes of such programmes.
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