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An evaluation of the integration of theory and practice during practice education: Placement A

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The need to increase student placement capacity resulted in a new model for the delivery of Placement A by the Scottish Stakeholder Partnership (Transition Team Implementation Programme, 2007). A number of initiatives to increase capacity have also been implemented in London, including a pilot building on the Scottish experience where Placement A is delivered in two parts: a series of integrated ‘day placements’, followed by a 2-week block placement at an approved placement setting. The delivery of the 4 week model for Placement A was evaluated to obtain baseline data and to ensure students’ ability to integrate campus-based learning with placement learning was considered in the design of an alternative delivery model. Methods: 

A questionnaire was completed by 35 third year undergraduate students at King's College London and 14 second year undergraduate students at London Metropolitan University, after they had returned to university after a 4-week Placement A. Using a five-point Likert scale, students were asked to indicate the level of agreement with 29 statements, including nine relating to the tasks and integration of learning between campus and placement. Other questions related to student enjoyment, motivation, range of experiences and student perception of Placement A's impact on their preparation for Placement B. Results: 

The results showed that 38 of the 53 (72%) students felt that the 4-week placement duplicated learning at university, but the same number also felt that the tasks undertaken helped them to apply what they had learned at university. Whilst the majority of students (43/53) agreed that the placement was enjoyable, 26 students responded they were bored at times during their placement. Four students indicated that after Placement A they were rethinking their decision to study dietetics. Discussion: 

Students’ responses reflected the role of the placement in the application of theory, and the duplication of tasks between practice and university is likely to be necessary to fulfil this role. The integration of theory and practice is an important educational outcome of practice placements, and the finding that some students’ are unable to relate placement tasks to campus-based learning raises a concern that the theory-practice gap could be better addressed. Improved integration may benefit the student experience and enjoyment of Placement A. Conclusions: 

The results from this evaluation will inform the pilot of the new delivery model for Placement A in London. Reference 

Transition Team Implementation Programme. (2007) Working In Partnership Towards Local Allocation of Dietetic Practice Placements TTIP Progress Report, February 2007. Available at (accessed on 18 January 2008).
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, King's College Hospital, London, UK 2: Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, London Metropolitan University, London, UK, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 August 2008

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