Developing work placements in a discipline-oriented education

Gaute Velle and colleagues from bioCEED and PRIME have recently published the article “Developing work placements in a discipline-oriented education” in the Nordic Journal of STEM Education.


Higher education is often divided into discipline-oriented and professional programs. Professional programs prepare students for a specific profession and include relevant theoretical and practical knowledge. Discipline-oriented programs emphasize theoretical knowledge and research within a specific discipline or field. Except for a career within research and higher education, discipline-oriented programs provide less obvious links to future careers. The transition from student life to working life may therefore be challenging.

In this paper, we present and discuss the development and implementation of a work placement course as part of the disciplinary programs in biology at the University of Bergen. The course was developed to provide students with practical- and work- related competences, to inform
about opportunities for future career and to foster motivation and learning. We have revised the course according to feedback from students, workplace hosts and our experience as course teachers during the six semesters the course has been running.

The work placement course is at the bachelor (BSc) level and consists of two main components; a work placement and the student’s own reporting of placement outcomes. For the placement, the students work 140 hours at a workplace as a biologist. The reporting consists of four open blog-posts, one written reflective essay and a final oral presentation. The course teachers also meet with the students and convey information on the roles of biology and biologists in today’s society through a Facebook group. Feedback from the students, hosts and course teachers point to a range of benefits from work practice in discipline-oriented study programs. Based on our experience, we provide guidance for implementing such courses.

Reference and link to the article

Velle, G., Hole, T. N., Førland, O., Simonelli, A.-L., and Vandvik, V. (2017). Developing work placements in a discipline-oriented education Nordic Journal of STEM Education, Vol. 1, No. 1 (2017), pp 287-306.

About the author

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