Placement or practicalities? Barriers and disincentives to work experience, as reported by computing students

Taylor-Smith, E., Smith, S., Smith, C. (2017, ). Placement or practicalities? Barriers and disincentives to work experience, as reported by computing students. Paper presented at Society for Research into Higher Education Annual Conference, Newport, Wales.


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Abstract

Having relevant work experience, such as a placement or internship, is valued by employers in the technology sector and can improve employment outcomes for computing graduates (Shadbolt 2016). However, gaining good work experience positions is competitive; some applications are unsuccessful and some students do not apply; some students feel unable to do work placements due to personal or contextual constraints. This study explores the perspectives of computing students at two UK universities, in order to identify factors that might advantage some students over others. A qualitative approach focuses on students’ perceptions and circumstances, collected through free-text responses to a survey, combined with data relating to students’ ethnicity, social class, and their parents’ education. This approach highlights specific challenges faced by individual students. These individuals’ challenges are also instances of important factors influencing access to placement, with implications for institutions and policy makers interested in improving equality of opportunity.
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Authors

Colin F Smith
Senior Lecturer
cf.smith@napier.ac.uk
+44 131 455 2774
Ella Taylor-Smith
Senior Research Fellow
e.taylor-smith@napier.ac.uk
+44 131 455 2392
Sally Smith
Dean of School
s.smith@napier.ac.uk
+44 131 455 2742

Areas of Expertise

Computing Education
Computing Education shares many of the same challenges of general education but it also has a few unique challenges which the researchers in this area are exploring through a range of funded projects and collaborative national and international projects.