Learning and earning: what can business students learn from part-time employment?

Benckendorff, Pierre, and Blackman, Anna (2010) Learning and earning: what can business students learn from part-time employment? In: Work Integrated Learning – Responding to Challenges: proceedings of the 2010 ACEN national conference. pp. 20-32. From: 2010 ACEN Australian Collaborative Education Network National Conference, 27 September - 1 October 2010, Perth, WA, Australia.

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Background: There is substantial evidence from the USA, UK and Australia that greater numbers of university students are mixing their studies with paid employment. The high rate of student participation in the labour market raises a number of interesting questions, particularly for those students enrolled in vocational courses such as business. Anecdotal evidence suggests that these students are developing a range of practical skills and knowledge about the world of work and the operation of real businesses. However, there is little empirical research investigating what skills and learning benefits business students might gain from part-time work. More importantly, it is unclear whether students can easily connect learning in the workplace with learning in the classroom environment.

Aims: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the role of part-time work in helping business students understand the world of work and in allowing them to integrate theory and practice.

Method: Ninety-seven business students were surveyed mid-semester following a one hour workshop designed to encourage students to reflect on informal learning and tacit knowledge acquired in the workplace.

Results: The results indicate that students found the intervention useful but that it did not change their perspectives about their paid part-time work. The results also show that a majority of business students do perceive some congruence between their work and academic studies. In addition, paid part-time work is perceived as a useful activity for developing a number of transferrable skills, most notably interpersonal skills, teamwork and adaptability, numeracy skills, problem solving and communication. The analysis reveals that work/study congruence has an important influence on both job satisfaction and satisfaction with academic performance. Part-time work appears to contribute to academic performance by developing business knowledge and skills that are transferable to university contexts and by providing students with a more grounded perspective which allows them grasp abstract academic concepts more quickly and easily.

Conclusions: If part-time work does have useful integrative learning outcomes for business students and if appropriately designed pedagogy can assists students to integrate their experiences in the workplace with the curriculum then paid part-time work may be a useful alternative to more costly Work Integrated Learning programs in business.

Item ID: 18470
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
ISBN: 978-0-9805706-1-8
Keywords: part-time work, workplace learning, students, skills
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Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2011 02:39
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930199 Learner and Learning not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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