Science, Business, and Policy: A long-term reflection on multidisciplinary work-based learning in a master’s track for societal integration of Science
A strong theoretical approach with a specific focus on disciplinary research characterizes the common science master’s education in the Netherlands. However, a work-based learning (WBL) approach may as well be expedient and suitable for science education at master’s level. In this paper, a case study is presented of a WBL-program designed for an academic setting: the one year Science, Business and Policy (SBP) master’s track, offered at the Faculty of Science and Engineering of the University of Groningen. The paper describes the design and curriculum of the track, including its underlying theoretical framework, courses, multidisciplinary projects and work placements. Based on the SBP-track’s design we identified six possible indicators of a successful elaboration of an academic WBL-program: the SBP-track 1) is designed in response to the Bologna process; 2) is offered fully within the curriculum of a master’s program of a research university; 3) requires a sufficient academic level and disciplinary knowledge at entrée; 4) follows an educational project approach; 5) focuses on the integration and implementation of knowledge, and; 6) applies learning objectives that are specifically formulated to match the WBL educational method. A directed content analysis of SBP work placements revealed an increase in the number of SBP-students between 2003 and 2019, with an overrepresentation of life science students, as well as a large variety of real-case problems addressed for both business and policy organisations diverse in sector, size and region. Students’ grades showed a positive correlation between the initial theoretical preparation and the report made during the work placement. In conclusion, the societal interpretation of the Bologna process has been implemented successfully with SBP, by combining academic learning with gaining professional experience using a WBL-approach.
Received: 03 December 2020
Accepted: 09 April 2021
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