Student Readiness and the Integration of Experiences in Practice and Education Settings

  • Stephen BillettEmail author
Part of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training: Issues, Concerns and Prospects book series (TVET, volume 29)


The ability of vocational education students to effectively utilise and integrate experiences in education and work settings is premised upon their readiness to engage with and reconcile those experiences. Consequently, preparing students to engage in workplace experiences (placements or practicums) and providing interventions after those experiences are likely to make these learning processes more effective. Proposed and discussed in this chapter is how the educational worth of integrating experiences in and across these two settings can be promoted through teacherly interventions before and after students’ experiences in work settings. Central here is students’ readiness to engage effectively in these experiences and interventions. That readiness comprises what the students know, can do and value that together mediate how they make sense of what they experience and then integrate those experiences in ways that will achieve robust (adaptable) learning. The explanatory basis advanced here is to understand and appraise the readiness comprising their zone of potential development. This zone is informed by Vygotskian precepts that acknowledge that the potential scope of individuals’ learning is mediated by what they know, can do and value. Within that zone, vocational education students can largely mediate their own learning. However, taking students beyond that zone necessitates their engagement with others and guidance in promoting their learning (i.e. zone of proximal development) and in ways that are productively aligned with the kinds of educational outcomes to be achieved. For vocational education programmes, these outcomes are usually associated with students learning the knowledge required for occupations, including the ability to adapt it to the requirements of workplaces where students secure employment upon graduation. Consequently, both the students’ individually mediated learning in the zone of potential development and that being provided by teacherly engagements (i.e. proximal development) might be directed towards those educational goals.


Readiness Integration of experiences Zone of potential development Zone of proximal development Apprenticeships Vocational education students Apprenticeship as a model of education 


  1. Akkerman, S. F., & Bakker, A. (2011). Boundary crossing and boundary objects. Review of Educational Research, 81(2), 132–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anker, R. (2001). Theories of occupational segregation by sex: An overview. In M. F. Loutfi (Ed.), Women, gender and work (pp. 129–155). Geneva: International Labour Organisation.Google Scholar
  3. Bailey, T. R., Hughes, K. L., & Moore, D. T. (2004). Working knowledge: Work-based learning and educational reform. New York: Routledge/Falmer.Google Scholar
  4. Barsalou, L. W. (2008). Grounded cognition. Annual Review of Psychology, 59, 617–645.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baumgartner, A., & Siefried, J. (2014). Error climate and the individual dealing with errors in the workplace. In C. Harteis, A. Rausch, & J. Seifried (Eds.), Discourses of professional learning: On the boundary between learning and work (pp. 95–111). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  6. Benner, P. (2004). Using the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition to describe and interpret skill acquisition and clinical judgment in nursing practice and education. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 24(3), 188–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berglund, I., & Loeb, I. H. (2013). The renaissance or a backward step: Disparities and tensions in two new Swedish pathways in VET. International Journal of Training and Research, 11(2), 135–149. Scholar
  8. Billett, S. (1997). Dispositions, vocational knowledge and development: Sources and consequences. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Vocational Education Research, 5(1), 1–26.Google Scholar
  9. Billett, S. (2001). Knowing in practice: Re-conceptualising vocational expertise. Learning and Instruction, 11(6), 431–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Billett, S. (2003). Sociogeneses, activity and ontogeny. Culture and Psychology, 9(2), 133–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Billett, S. (2008). Learning throughout working life: A relational interdependence between social and individual agency. British Journal of Education Studies, 55(1), 39–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Billett, S. (2009). Conceptualising learning experiences: Contributions and mediations of the social, personal and brute. Mind, Culture and Activity, 16(1), 32–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Billett, S. (2011). Vocational education: Purposes, traditions and prospects. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Billett, S. (2013). Recasting transfer as a socio-personal process of adaptable learning. Educational Research Review, 8, 5–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Billett, S. (2015a). Integrating practice-based experiences into higher education. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Billett, S. (2015b). Readiness and learning in healthcare education. Clinical Teacher, 12, 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Billett, S., & Ovens, C. (2007). Learning about work, working life and post school options: Guiding students’ reflecting on paid part-time work. Journal of Education and Work, 20(2), 75–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Billett, S., Cain, M., & Le, L. (2016). Augmenting higher education students’ work experiences: preferred purposes and processes. Studies in Higher Education, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Brown, A. L., & Palinscar, A. M. (1989). Guided, cooperative learning and individual knowledge acquisition. In L. B. Resnick (Ed.), Knowing, learning and instruction: Essays in honour of Robert Glaser (pp. 393–451). Hillsdale: Erlbaum & Associates.Google Scholar
  20. Cartmel, J. (2011). A considered curriculum for preparing human service practitioners: Structuring circles of learning and change. In S. Billett & A. Henderson (Eds.), Developing learning professionals: Integrating experiences in university and practice settings (pp. 101–118). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Chaiklin, S., & Lave, J. (Eds.). (1993). Understanding practice: Perspectives on activity and context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Cole, M. (1985). The zone of proximal development where culture and cognition create each other. In J. V. Wertsch (Ed.), Culture, communication and cognition: Vygotskian perspectives (pp. 146–161). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Deissinger, T. (1997). The German dual system – A model for Europe? Education and Training, 39(8), 297–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Deissinger, T. (2000). The German ‘philosophy’ of linking academic and work-based learning in higher education: The case for vocational academies. Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 52(4), 605–625.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Eames, C., & Coll, R. (2010). Cooperative education: Integrating classroom and workplace learning. In S. Billett (Ed.), Learning through practice (pp. 180–196). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gallese, V., & Lakoff, G. (2005). The brain’s concepts: The role of the sensory-motor system in conceptual knowledge. Cognitive Neurpsychology, 22(3–4), 455–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gardner, H. (2004). What we do & don’t know about learning. Daedalus, 133(1), 5–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Glaser, R. (1989). Expertise and learning: How do we think about instructional processes now that we have discovered knowledge structures? In D. Klahr & K. Kotovsky (Eds.), Complex information processing: The impact of Herbert A. Simon (pp. 289–317). Hillsdale: Erlbaum & Associates.Google Scholar
  29. Goldman, S. R. (2003). Learning in complex domains: When and why do multiple representations help? Learning and Instruction, 13, 239–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gott, S. (1989). Apprenticeship instruction for real-world tasks: The co-ordination of procedures, mental models, and strategies. Review of Research in Education, 15, 97–169.Google Scholar
  31. Greeno, J. G. (1989). Situations, mental models, and generative knowledge. In D. Klahr & K. Kotovsky (Eds.), Complex information processing: The impact of Herbert A. Simon (pp. 285–318). Hillsdale: Erlbaum & Associates.Google Scholar
  32. Greinert, W. D. (2005). Vocational education and training in Europe: Classical models of the 19th-century and training in England, France and Germany during the first half of the 20th. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.Google Scholar
  33. Groen, G. J., & Patel, P. (1988). The relationship between comprehension and reasoning in medical expertise. In M. T. H. Chi, R. Glaser, & R. Farr (Eds.), The nature of expertise (pp. 287–310). New York: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  34. Grollman, P., & Tutschner, R. (2006). Possible intended and unintended effects of European VET policies – The case of integrating work and learning. Paper presented at the European Research Network in Vocational Education and Training Symposium, Geneva.Google Scholar
  35. Henderson, A., Twentyman, M., Heel, A., & Lloyd, B. (2006). Students’ perception of the psycho-social clinical learning environment: An evaluation of placement models. Nurse Education Today, 26(7), 564–571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kincheloe, J. L. (1995). Toil and trouble: Good work, smart workers and the integration of academic and vocational education. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  37. Lave, J. (1991). Situating learning in communities of practice. In L. B. Resnick, J. M. Levine, & S. Teasley (Eds.), Perspectives on socially shared cognition (pp. 63–82). Washington: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lee, Y. J., & Roth, W.-M. (2005). The (unlikely) trajectory of learning in a salmon hatchery. Journal of Workplace Learning, 17, 243–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Leontyev, A. N. (1981). Problems of the development of the mind. Moscow: Progress Publishers.Google Scholar
  40. Lum, G. (2003). Towards a richer conception of vocational preparation. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 37(1), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Matte, F., & Cooren, F. (2015). Learning as dialogue: An ‘on-the-go’ approach to dealing with organizational tensions. In L. Filliettaz & S. Billett (Eds.), Francophone perspectives of learning through work: Conceptions, traditions and practices (pp. 169–187). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Newton, J. (2011). Reflective learning groups for students nurses. In S. Billett & A. Henderson (Eds.), Developing learning professionals: Integrating experiences in university and practice settings (pp. 119–130). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Nyen, T., & Tønder, A. H. (2015). Cooperation and reform in vocational education and training. In I. F. Engelstad & A. Hagelund (Eds.), Cooperation and conflict the Nordic way (pp. 201–218). Berlin: De Gruyter Open.Google Scholar
  44. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2010). Learning for jobs. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  45. Pea, R. D. (2004). The social and technological dimensions of scaffolding and related theoretical concepts for learning, education and human activity. The Journal of Learning Sciences, 13(3), 423–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Perkins, D., Jay, E., & Tishman, S. (1993). Beyond abilities: A dispositional theory of thinking. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 39(1), 1–21.Google Scholar
  47. Piaget, J. (1976). Behaviour and evolution (D. N. Smith, Trans.). New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  48. Raizen, S. A. (1989). Reforming education for work: A cognitive science perspective. Retrieved from Berkeley CA.Google Scholar
  49. Richards, J., Sweet, L., & Billett, S. (2013). Preparing medical students as agentic learners through enhancing student engagement in clinical education. Asia-Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education, 14(4), 251–263.Google Scholar
  50. Rogoff, B. (1995). Observing sociocultural activity on three planes: Participatory appropriation, guided participation, apprenticeship. In J. W. Wertsch, A. Alvarez, & P. del Rio (Eds.), Sociocultural studies of mind (pp. 139–164). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Ryle, G. (1949). The concept of mind. London: Hutchinson University Library.Google Scholar
  52. Smith, R., & Billett, S. (2006). Interdependencies at work: Constituting reflection, performance, dialogue and reward. Journal of Adult and Continuing Education, 12(2), 156–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Stenström, M.-L., Grollman, P., Tutschner, R., Tynjälä, P., Nikkanen, P., & Loogma, K. (2006). Integration of work and learning: Policies, strategies and practices. Paper presented at the European Research Network in Vocational Education and Training Symposium, Geneva.Google Scholar
  54. Stevenson, J. C. (1991). Cognitive structures for the teaching of adaptability in vocational education. In G. Evans (Ed.), Learning and teaching cognitive skills (pp. 144–163). Hawthorn: ACER.Google Scholar
  55. Sun, R., Merrill, E., & Peterson, T. (2001). From implicit skills to explicit knowledge: A bottom-up model of skill development. Cognitive Science, 25, 203–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Tobias, S. (1994). Interest, prior knowledge, and learning. Review of Educational Research, 64(1), 37–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Tynjälä, P. (2008). Perspectives into learning in the workplace. Education Research Review, 3(2), 130–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Valsiner, J. (2000). Culture and human development. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  59. Valsiner, J., & van der Veer, R. (2000). The social mind: The construction of an idea. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  60. Vosniadou, S., Ioannides, C., Dimitrakopoulou, A., & Papademetriou, E. (2002). Designing learning environments to promote conceptual change in science. Learning and Instruction, 11(4–5), 381–419.Google Scholar
  61. Voss, J. F. (1987). Learning and transfer in subject matter learning: A problem-solving model. International Journal of Educational Research, 11(6), 607–622.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Werstch, J. V. (Ed.). (1981/1992). Concept of activity in Soviet psychology. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International.Google Scholar
  63. Wertsch, J., & Tulviste, P. (1992). L. S. Vygotsky and contemporary developmental psychology. Developmental Psychology, 28(4), 548–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Education and Professional StudiesGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia

Personalised recommendations