Here we describe the evaluation of the student experience during these 6-weeks placements within an international university or national partner organisation, and the module assessment system. Data were collected using a questionnaire and a focus group, and several themes emerged from the analysis. First, results showed that taking part in the placement and conducting their own independent research at the host site helped students to make connections between their scientific knowledge, otherwise constrained within the walls of the undergraduate (UG) science lab, and the wider impact of their research on society and people. Another theme was about career choices and aspirations, and the placement experience either confirmed prior choices or opened new horizons. Students were able to appreciate a wider range of research settings (e.g. research-support or mix of clinical & research), of which they were previously not aware.
In relation to the assessments, students stated that the online reflective log helped them to feel supported by the university academic, while weekly feedback on work challenged them to reflect on the scientific and personal skills gained. Students agreed that they had further developed their employability skills (as determined by a skills audit) during the internship. Students acknowledged it was challenging to have to acquire evidence of skills development and to discuss the socio-economic impact of their work in the final report. However, they appreciated the usefulness of this reflection in relation to their future careers. In addition, many students commented that writing the weekly logs helped with writing the final report.
Beard, D.F. (2007) Assessment of Internship Experiences and Accounting Core Competencies. Accounting Education, 16:2, 207-220, DOI: 10.1080/09639280701234625
Messelink, H.E., Van Maele, J. & Spencer-Oatey, H. (2015) Intercultural competencies: what students in study and placement mobility should be learning, Intercultural. Education, 26:1, 62-72, DOI: 10.1080/14675986.2015.993555