Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

INTED Valencia 2012


Work Placement learning has become a regular feature on many of the construction related courses being delivered in third level institutions both here in Ireland and throughout the world. This paper examines how a work placement module is delivered to a group of construction students on a construction management undergraduate degree course, and details changes that could be implemented to allow a greater learning experience for the students. On the surface it has been relatively successful but its true pedagogy value has not yet been assessed. This paper will assess the true value of the placement and recommend any changes to the current programme if necessary. The importance of this mode of learning cannot be overstated, Cunningaham, Davies and Bennett (2004)[1] feel that “learning is part of being human and people learn all the time at work” (Cunningaham, Davies and Bennett,2004, p.16) which establishes the important link between work and learning. This is reinforced by Boud and Garrick (1999)[2] who advise that “learning at work has become one of the most exciting areas of development in the dual fields of management and education”( Boud and Garrick,1999, p.1). Boud and Garrick (1999) also examine the importance of workplace learning and find that the pools of knowledge acquired in initial education are no longer sufficient for the new work order. They advise that what is required by future employers surround abilities to apply that knowledge and expertise to use in unfamiliar circumstances, and point to demands for flexibility, communication skills, teamwork and qualities of that nature. The idea of the workplace being an effective site of learning is strongly supported by Hager (1999)[3] who also contends that students are supportive of this method. Illeris (2002)[4] suggests that any learning theory that has received a certain amount of recognition and dissemination must have something to contribute to the whole. Using research methods such as: workshops utilising semi structured interviews, short questionnaires, reinforced by documentary research, this paper will highlight problems within this type of module, and potential recommendations going forward. Toohey (1999)[5] contends that a work placement component may contain logistical difficulties that may arise. Such difficulties may surround sourcing of work placements, what will happen if sufficient placements cannot be organised, who will be responsible for liaison between the employer and the educational institution, what form that liaison will take and how frequent that contact is expected to be (Toohey, 1999). giving an insight into the new challenges arising from this economic scenario. This study, while focusing on a specific course in Technological University of Dublin, will provide conclusions which will be of benefit to students, lecturers, employers, and to third level institutions throughout Ireland who offer similar construction related courses. The economic state of the Irish construction industry features as an important backdrop to this study, and it must be recognised that the industry‟s economic performance is ever changing and this must be taken into account when evaluating conclusions reached.