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Workplace Learning in Higher Education: Two Examples from a Swedish Context.

Chapter in book
Authors Jan Gustafsson
Per-Olof Thång
Published in In Bowen, T. & Drysdale, M. T. B. (Eds.), Work-integrated Learning in the 21st Century: Global Perspectives on the Future, (35-49) (International Perspectives on Education and Society, V32), Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing Limited.
ISBN 9781787148604
Publisher Emerald Publishing Limited
Place of publication Bingley, UK
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Department of Education and Special Education
Language en
Keywords Workplace learning; higher education; vocational education;theory; practice
Subject categories Educational Sciences


This chapter deals with aspects of the overall criticism in regard to higher education and its growing discrepancy between theory and practice, and the meaning of problem-based and authentic learning. The chapter is based on two specific cases that illustrate how higher education is organized in Sweden, and how education could be organized to correspond to the demands of authentic learning and a new form of knowledge production. Work-based learning started as an alternative to the ordinary three-year nursing program at a university college in the western part of Sweden. One main finding was that the students experienced the relation between the different types of teaching in the program as weak, and the different learning contexts in the program as being separate from each other. Higher Vocational Education (HVE) is a market-oriented vocational higher education program with close cooperation between an educational provider and working life. Work-based learning is a cornerstone of HVE, and authentic learning in a real-life setting constitutes a single course governed by its own syllabus. One main finding, was that students experienced a lack of progression in the work tasks and the subject content of the school-based education was not advanced enough. Workplace learning can serve as a structuring resource in education, but it can also be problematic because knowledge is inherent in routines and technologies.

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