The challenge of work based learning: a role for academic mentors?

Stephens, Simon, Doherty, Oran, Bennett, Billy and Margey, Michael (2014) The challenge of work based learning: a role for academic mentors? International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, 3 (2). pp. 158-170. ISSN 2046-6854


Purpose; – The purpose of this paper is to explore the key challenge(s) experienced by employers, employees and academics during work based learning (WBL) programmes at undergraduate level. The idea of academic mentors is proposed as an aid to addressing the challenges common to WBL programmes.; ; Design/methodology/approach; – The case study presented in this paper involves a large multinational organisation and a higher education institution, both of which are based in Ireland. Interviews were used to explore the outcome(s) of a WBL programme.; ; Findings; – The challenges associated with WBL place demands on the design of curriculum, pedagogy and accreditation. The use of academic mentors can help translate academic knowledge into workplace practice; and address challenges which are common in WBL programmes.; ; Practical implications; – The understanding of best practice in the design of WBL programmes is enriched. A role for academics as mentors is identified and the implications explored.; ; Originality/value; – The success of WBL can be linked to the relationships that form between employers, employees and academics. There is evidence that the academic is central to the development of these relationships.

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