Workplace practice in undergraduate accounting education: a small scale exploration of year-long work experience at a post-1992 UK university.

Edden, R. ORCID: 0000-0001-8068-7671, 2020. Workplace practice in undergraduate accounting education: a small scale exploration of year-long work experience at a post-1992 UK university. EdD, Nottingham Trent University.

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Undertaking a year-long placement between the second and final year of an undergraduate degree is an established practice within Business Schools for helping to develop students’ transferable and employability skills (Sheridon and Linehan, 2011). Literature also points to the better academic performance of placement students over full-time students in their final year (for example Crawford and Wang, 2016). However, little is known about how these perceived benefits come about (Little and Harvey, 2006), or indeed, how students themselves experience the workplace environment.

This research explores periods of year-long work experience for BA (Hons) Accountancy and Finance (BAAF) students at a post-1992 university. It adopts a dialogic approach commensurate with constructivism (Lincoln, Lynham and Guba, 2011), which places students’ constructed descriptions of their experiences at the heart of the research. In-depth interviews were carried out with four BAAF students who had undertaken a gap year, rather than a university-approved placement experience, and found that similar benefits were expressed by these students to those previously ascribed to placement students in literature. In-depth interviews were conducted with six further BAAF placement students, at three points in time during their year-long placement. Interviews revealed that students experienced their placement in terms of actions and behaviour, and it was through active engagement with workplace practices, and through social interactions with a community of practitioners, that they came to learn their roles (Lave and Wenger, 1991). A focus group was conducted with eight further BAAF students on return from placement, which revealed that BAAF students could be better supported with crossing the boundary between university and the workplace (Wenger-Trayner and Wenger-Trayner, 2015), and for navigating the workplace practices they were likely to be immersed in.

A framework that provides a lens through which student learning and development on campus, as well as during placement, was established from the findings. This framework centres around the notion of ‘becoming’ supported by ‘self’, ‘action’, and ‘possibilities’, set within the context of ‘personalisation’. The realisation and operationalisation of this framework, drawing upon the BAAF programme for illustrative purposes, is outlined. The findings have implications for accounting education within the academy, as well as for professional accountancy training and practice. However, in line with much work-based learning literature, there are also transdisciplinary applications of these findings beyond the immediate accounting context. A series of recommendations, for practice, as well as avenues for future research, are made.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Edden, R.
Date: June 2020
Rights: This work is the intellectual property of the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required should be directed to the owner of the Intellectual Property Rights.
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Institute of Education
Record created by: Jeremy Silvester
Date Added: 22 Jul 2020 11:12
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 15:18

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