APPLICATION OF WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING IN DESCRIPTIONS OF PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS - A STUDY OF DISSERTATION WORK WITHIN INFORMATICS WITH SPECIALIZATION IN WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING
In 2002, the Swedish government assigned University West (UW) to develop work integrated learning (WIL). WIL is linked to learning in both organizational contexts and higher education, including lifelong learning and collaborative learning between research and stakeholders representing private and public sector. Research activities at UW are rooted in practice and expected to contribute to both practice and societal impact and focus on “Learning in and for a New Working Life”. Babaheidari and Flensburg (2015, p.3) describes WIL as “processing advanced knowledge as a result of interaction between academia and the world of work”. Doctoral studies represents important premise suppliers for future research and contribution to the development of WIL, thus UW has provided doctoral programs with a specialization in work integrated learning since 2012. Integrating doctoral programs into the WIL philosophy has presented some challenges, related to designing the curriculum for the courses as well as contributing to exchange of knowledge, learning and situated learning experiences for all involved stakeholders (Babaheidari and Flensburg, 2015).
On this basis, our paper will explore how WIL and practical implications are described in dissertation work published between 2018-2019, within the doctoral program of Informatics with specialization in WIL (IWIL) at UW.
Seven dissertations within IWIL were analyzed based on questions related to descriptions of the practice domain and –perspective, the relation between research(er) and practice, and the research’s implications for practice. All analyses were discussed based on the intention of WIL as a basis of values.
Dissertations were mainly based on engaged research approaches. Despite approach, the analyses revealed the collaborative processes to be scarcely described. Practice domain, problems and challenges are generally well displayed, but mainly representing a research perspective. Lessons learned, insights and reflections arising as part of collaborative processes are not pronounced clearly. Practical implications are often vague, difficult to identify, and presented from a research perspective operationalized as “principles” or recommendations. Added value and implemented changes are slightly discussed.
Conclusion and implications for future research:
The dissertations meet the intention of contributing to “learning in a new working life” due to the choice of methods involving practice. However, to be in line with WIL the research(er) need more focus on the practice perspective to provide “learning for a new working life”. Different perspectives on practical implications, outcome of collaborative processes and result should be more explicit in dissertations within doctoral programs within IWIL. A model or typology for how doctoral candidates and researchers should describe practical implications and learning situated in practice would be a relevant contribution for further development of doctoral programs and research in the WIL philosophy.