Exploring learning and assessment practices in University and professional workplaces.

Exploring divergence and congruence between learning and assessment practices in University and professional workplaces.

School: Edinburgh Medical School

Team Members: Tim Fawns, Tamara Mulherin, Gill Aitken, Emeritus Prof Dai Hounsell


As developments in digital technologies have transformed the tools, resources and interactions that underlie day-to-day practices in academic and professional settings, learning and assessment activities at University confront the challenge of keeping pace with what is needed in the contemporary professional workplace. Building on promising research into interprofessional workplace practices in relation to learning, performance, professionalism and information literacy, this exploratory study uses a sociomaterial lens to generate a contextualised and fine-grained picture of where and how academic and workplace settings diverge and converge around learning and assessment practices. We seek to understand the extent to which these similarities and differences might: highlight appropriate scaffolding of learning; impede sustainable professional development; and surface the tensions that can hold back curriculum change. The intention is that the results will help shape a proposal for a more substantial collaborative project.

We will analyse audio-recorded, guided conversations – face-to-face and online – with two sets of well-placed informants: academic staff who also work in professional practice; and early- and mid-career graduate professionals (i.e. individuals who have already experienced the transition into employment) studying for postgraduate qualifications across a range of domains, including medicine, clinical psychology, informatics and architecture. Thematic analysis of transcriptions will identify reflections and insights that will feed into further dialogue with informants and wider stakeholders. The aim is to better understand the implications for designing learning and assessment to facilitate both a smoother transition from university to professional workplace environments and students’ development of the capacity to adapt to new settings.

Final Project Report

Download the final project report (PDF)

Other Project Outcomes

  • Conference Presentation (2019): International ProPEL (Professional Practice, Education and Learning) conference, Sydney