Thursday, August 09, 2012

Work integrated research

In studying the topic of research supervision at universities, it stuck me that there was little mention of "work integrated research", whereas "work integrated learning" is widely discussed (and occasionally implemented). Given that the literature indicates part time students are successful at research, due to their greater experience and maturity, then integrating the research into their workplace should make for an even better Masters or PHD program.

A search of Google Scholar found only 15 documents mentioning "work integrated research", whereas there were 183,000 for "work integrated learning". The phrase "work integrated learning" occurs on 43,000 Australian university web pages, whereas "work integrated research" is on only on 361 and of those about one third are from Griffith University, being primarily the work of engineer Dr Rodney Stewart. An example is "Developing a framework for work integrated research higher degree studies in an Australian engineering context":
The umbrella of Australian research higher degree (RHD) offerings has broadened from the traditional MPhil/PhD programmes to include a range of professional masters and doctoral degrees. This article reports on the experiences of three PhD students, engaged in an informally managed industry partnered research programme, described in this article as the work integrated research higher degree (WIRHD). Their learning process shares the attributes from both the traditional PhD programme and professional doctorates. However, because of the blended nature of the learning contexts, candidates engaged in the WIRHD programme must address a wider range of issues than those following the traditional RHD pathway.

An exploratory case study approach was adopted with the view to develop an integrative framework to explain the various contexts that influence the learning experience of WIRHD candidates, as well as a structured approach to guide this contemporary form of industry partnered WIRHD process.

From: Developing a framework for work integrated research higher degree studies in an Australian engineering context, Rodney A. Stewart, Le Chen, European Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 34, Iss. 2, 2009
Stewart and Le Chen use the term "Work Integrated Research Higher Degree" (WIRHD) to, as they put it, produce ‘scholar professionals’, rather than ‘professional researchers’. WIRHD is an ungainly acronym and the term does not appear to have come into widespread use, with only about 7 references in Google Scholar, with all referencing Stewart. WIRHD seems to be a halfway point between a traditional PHD and a Professional Doctorate, with the students
researching in an industrial organisation, but not as an employee of that organsation. This would make for a very difficult relationship to manage, which Stewart and Le Chen spend much of their paper discussing.

The organization WACE uses the term "Cooperative & Work-Integrated Education" (CWIE) . WACE included the topic “Work Integrated Research” in their 2010 symposium. Johannes Haas produced an interesting diagram in a presentation summarizing the "salon" section of the symposium (a less formal set of sessions) "Best and Next Practices: Bridging the Gap between Higher Education and Employers through Work
Integrated Learning, Cooperative & Experiential Education
". Slides 5 "Repositioning of WORK INTEGRATED EDUCATION in an international and inter-cultural context" has "Education" at the center, with "Go Abroad", "Study", "Do Research" and "Work", around it.

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