Accessible work placements support equity and diversity in engineering

phys.org | 4/2/2019 | Staff
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Social capital, financial status and personal circumstances can impact engineering work placement experiences, leaving some students at a disadvantage, according to new research led by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) with The University of Western Australia, Murdoch University and Curtin University.

The report, funded by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE), recommended universities and industry refine Work Integrated Learning (WIL) practices to better support access, quality and wellbeing for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

WIL - Term - Australia - Range - Experiences

WIL is the main umbrella term used in Australia to describe a range of workplace-based educational experiences that contribute to a degree qualification.

Lead researcher Dr. Natalie Lloyd (Faculty of Engineering and Information and Technology, UTS) said the study examined student engineers' narratives of their WIL placement experiences including access; placement quality; support; development of professional identity; and impact on wellbeing.

WIL - Wellbeing - Range - Stressors - Time

"We found WIL wellbeing is negatively affected by a range of stressors including time, commitment and financial pressures, which may be offset by opportunities for learning and impact for some students, although not all," Dr. Lloyd said.

"Students from equity groups, who often face compounding personal and financial challenges, are particularly susceptible to these pressures."

Study - Institutions - Compulsory - Exposure - Practice

The study found many Australian institutions included compulsory exposure to professional practice, in addition to embedded professional practice experiences, as a course completion requirement for engineering studies.

"This project sought to establish the features of quality engineering WIL placement practices and identify if students' wellbeing was eroded by stresses, including...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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