Putting the professional into practice-based learning


  • Jurgen Schulte School of Physics and Advanced Materials University of Technology, Sydney
  • Neela Griffiths Academic Language and Learning Group Institute of Interactive Media and Learning University of Technology, Sydney


Assessment in an undergraduate physics subject was re-designed to challenge and inspire students to develop and apply their disciplinary and non-disciplinary skills in a practice-based assignment task. The aims of the re-design were to expose students to workplace practice and increase their engagement in the subject. To achieve these aims the assignment was carefully scaffolded to give students the opportunity to improve their scientific writing skills, develop an approach to systematic research, build a greater understanding of the peer-review process and acquire skills in self and team management. The task required students to work in groups to research and write a research paper based on a meta-study model. Their papers were then compiled and published in a student peer-reviewed research journal. The impact of this intervention was evaluated through a focus group discussion with the majority of the students commenting positively on their learning and engagement in the subject. The effectiveness of the assignment design, its scaffolding, the peer-review process and the authenticity of the workplace-setting are discussed. Suggestions are made as to how to further improve this type of assignment design. This workplace-focused intervention may be of interest to educators in other STEM disciplines.