The Role of Industry Based Learning in a Construction Management Program

Mary Hardie, Philip Love


Abstract

Increasingly university administrations are questioning the value of industry experience during a construction management undergraduate program. It is suggested that such work experience is difficult for academics to assess. It may also be unavailable to some students and not closely related to formal learning outcomes. As a result there is pressure to remove the requirement from the graduation eligibility process at many universities. For those who believe that an understanding of the industry context is critical to the development of a construction graduate, there is a need to provide evidence of the breadth and effectiveness of industry experience undertaken by undergraduates. Such evidence may be gleaned from the documents provided by students to support their completion of the required amount of industry experience. Logbooks and employer letters from the last four years at one university were examined and encoded using NVIVO9™ text analysis software. The resulting data indicates that current students are employed throughout the industry in a wide variety of roles and in many types of companies. There is some evidence that the type of experience gained in top tier companies is qualitatively different from that gained elsewhere. There is no indication that student employment is clustered at the low skilled end of the spectrum. Indeed, there is evidence that some students gain positions of considerable responsibility well before they graduate with an undergraduate degree. As such it may well be worth consideration that a specific hierarchy of industry roles be established for students to aim for during their study period. This research suggests that this question merits further discussed between industry advisors and academic providers.

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