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Student Work Placement: Friend or Foe? A study of the perceptions of university students on industrial work placement

Author Sian O'Briain, Susan Bergin, Aidan Mooney, Martina Bourgoin, Paula Murray & Qingyang Zhao
Abstract At the National University of Ireland Maynooth, Computer Science and Software Engineering students are required to undertake an industrial work placement module as part of their course. The work placement is typically six to eighteen months long and takes place in the penultimate year of the degree. This paper evaluates students' perception of the quality of the learning experience they received through work placement. The voice of many key players involved in the process is captured, including, the students themselves, members of the academic department and the Industrial Work Placement Office; and importantly this paper is authored by representatives of each of these groups. In particular, the paper evaluates the types of preparations students make prior to commencing a placement, the transferable skills acquired and improved during their placement, and student perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of their placement. A mixed data acquisition model is used for gathering data including questionnaires, interviews and focus groups. The gathered data is analysed and a critique on the findings is presented. The paper concludes with recommendations and considerations for any institution that is interested in offering an industrial work placement component.
Keywords Work placement, Student perceptions, Soft skills, Technical skills
Published In ICEP Proceedings
Year 2013
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