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Title: Enhancing internship practices for stakeholders in hospitality and tourism undergraduate education : a practice-based sociomaterial perspective
Author: Pacheco Lopez, O.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 9949
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2019
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Internships or placements have increasingly been regarded as an essential component of hospitality education programs worldwide. These practice-based learning experiences benefit their stakeholders in ways that satisfy their interests, needs and increased expectations. This exploratory study investigates the perspectives of the primary stakeholders of an undergraduate hospitality management program at a Dutch higher education institution, namely, the student-interns, the institution's staff, and hospitality industry managers about what they consider as important for a successful internship practice. The study is constructivist in its overall approach and is underpinned by sociomaterial and practice-based learning perspectives, considering how issues of practices, relationships, and material aspects play a role in the work environment. It employs an exploratory case study comprising a preliminary survey and qualitative methodologies through documentary analysis of student-intern reports, and in-depth interviews some of which include field notes from visits to hosting organizations for student-interns. It was observed that the education of hospitality industry field around internships has not fully considered the way in which practices and learning are grounded in the social and material conditions which students face on placements. This study demonstrates that social and material dimensions of workplace learning do exert influences on how student-interns perceive and experience practices, on how they relate to others and on how they learn and shape their future perspectives. As it was observed, facing unstructured and ambiguous practices and artifacts, inadequate and inconvenient workspaces and being uncertain about their working environment and their future orientations, all triggered distinctive responses among interns. These responses were also influenced by their knowledge, skills and attitudes, previous experiences, their dual identity as students and employees, and the role of others both within and outside the hosting organizations. Moreover, merely facing inadequacies, ambiguity and uncertainty did not mean student-interns achieved learning; a supportive environment provided by supervisors, employees, and perhaps other interns at the hosting organizations and at the educational institution, were determinant in pointing out towards proactive responses rather than simply reflective responses, which then lead to learning on placement. Proactively taking responsibility and mobilizing others towards change, were integral to effective learning in helping to explain how students responded to perceived challenges. The study demonstrates that giving more attention to sociomaterial conditions in which practices are set, could contribute to enriching experiences and learning of students on placements; to potentially enhance hospitality education, and to assist hosting organizations with addressing staffing issues associated with retention and turnover. The study has direct implications for course revisions; career advice; collaborative synergies between the educational institution and the industry's firms; and informing best practices for the case institution and potentially for other institutions offering similar programs. The investigation ends with a formulation of recommendations for the three stakeholders of the program and suggests further research on internships considering the underlying theoretical frameworks for this investigation.
Supervisor: Kahn, Peter ; Crosta, Lucilla Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral