Investigations of whether students taking undergraduate work placements show greater academic improvement than those who do not have shown inconsistent results. In most studies, sample sizes have been relatively small and few studies have taken into account pre-existing student differences.Here data from over 6000 students at one university over six cohorts and a range of programmes are analysed. Consistent academic benefit from placement experience, regardless of ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic background and subject is shown. However the impact of demographic factors on both achievement and on the probability of taking a placement suggests that future research should take these factors into account. The role of placements in promoting employability is contextualised as a secondary benefit to the primary goal of educating the mind in the Newman (1852) tradition. Possible causes of, and further research into, the improved academic performance identified are discussed.
Bibliographical noteThis is an electronic version of an article published in Reddy, P A and Moores, E Placement year academic benefit revisited: Effects of demographics, prior achievement and degree programme, Teaching in Higher Education, and is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2011.611873
- academic performance
- socio-economic status