The Blurred Line Between Failure and Success in Student–Industry Projects

Lise Jensen, Christin Lindholm

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Student–industry activities are often heralded as win–win–win activities in which students gain knowledge of their future professional fields, companies access student knowledge, and universities both offer students stimulating learning opportunities and strengthen ties with industry. Student–industry projects can be defined as an active learning methodology characterized by pedagogical values such as improving student understanding of the concepts, motivation, interest in the subject, and work efficiency (Barak, 2009). Biggs and Tang (2009) find that a stimulating learning environment relies on three main components: 1. an open environment, 2. worthwhile tasks, and 3. demands that students can realistically hope to meet. In the same vein, Perkins (1991) stresses the importance of learners’ attitudes towards the learning situation and of students’ “buying in” to the instruction agenda, factors that are much more easily stimulated when students are confronted with real problems by stakeholders than when presented with constructed problems in simulated situations. Leenders and Maufette-Leenders (2010) argue that a fictitious scenario will not appear credible and not engage students the way an authentic situation does. Authentic learning “focuses on real-world, complex problems and their solutions” (Lombardi, 2007, p. 2), and introduction into a professional environment helps students become “enculturated” into the discipline, a crucial concept according to Lave and Wenger, as “a training program that consists of instructional settings separated from actual performance would tend to split the learner’s ability to manage the learning situation apart from his ability to perform the skill” (1991). University representatives generally agree that student–industry activities make students more employable after graduation (Dawson et al., 1997). Seen in this light, one may wonder why so many student–industry activities are established, only to survive a few iterations. Student–industry activities are by no means homogenous, and include a wide variety of collaboration models ranging from short undemanding meetings between students and industry representatives to long complex relationships demanding considerable effort from universities, companies, and students alike. We have no reason to believe that the success factors for these widely divergent collaboration models are identical. In approaching the concept of “success”, we find it desirable to distinguish between various student–industry activities in a defined framework. In the project management field, critical success factors are often discussed and identified (Pinto and Prescott, 1988; Westerveld, 2003); to better the odds of survival of student–industry activities, the same needs to be done in the field of university–industry collaboration to create more stable student–industry activities.
Titel på värdpublikationThird International Symposium on Project Appr oaches in Engineering Education (PAEE’2011): Aligning Engineering Education with Engineering Challenges
ISBN (tryckt)978-989-8525-05-5
StatusPublished - 2011
EvenemangInternational Symposium on Project Approaches in Engineering Education, PAEE'2011 - Lisbon, Portugal
Varaktighet: 2011 sep. 272011 sep. 30


KonferensInternational Symposium on Project Approaches in Engineering Education, PAEE'2011

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Teknik och teknologier


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