Learning in the first professional job: the first year of full time employment after college for accountants, engineers and nurses
Eraut, M., Maillardet, F.J., Miller, C., Steadman, S., Ali, S., Blackman, C. and Furner, J. (2003) Learning in the first professional job: the first year of full time employment after college for accountants, engineers and nurses In: AERA Conference, Chicago.
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This paper reports findings from the first phase of a four-year research project funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council as part of its Teaching and Learning Research Programme. The major component of this project is a longitudinal study of trainee accountants, graduate trainee engineers, and newly qualified nurses in England. This critical period of introduction to professional work has not been previously studied by a longitudinal series of observations and interviews, though a number of one-off surveys have been conducted. The three professions have been chosen for three reasons: (1) they play key roles in the UK economy and public services, (2) they use contrasting approaches to professional formation and (3) the applicants have prior experience of working with them and were able to find user partners wanting to participate in the research. The accountants and engineers are formally contracted trainees, for whom employers have developed systems of organised training support. Hence we have added a second, action research, component to the study, which uses the findings of the first phase to assist our partner employers to make appropriate modifications to their first year support arrangements for new recruits. The evaluation of such modified arrangements with a new first year cohort will start in Autumn 2003, and findings from the second two-year phase of the longtitudinal study will also be too late for inclusion in this paper. Research Questions The first question comes from Eraut et al’s (2000) study of mid-career professionals’ learning in the workplace, while the second is a natural extension of that previous work: 1) To ascertain what is being learned, how it is being learned and the factors affecting the level and direction of learning effort; and contribute to theoretical understanding of learning in non-formal contexts. 2) To further develop research methods for investigating learning in the workplace.
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