Learning and earning: What can business students learn from part-time employment

Benckendorff, Pierre and Blackman, Anna (2010). Learning and earning: What can business students learn from part-time employment. In: Matthew Campbell, Proceedings: Work Integrated Learning – Responding to Challenges. 2010 ACEN National Conference, Perth, WA, Australia, (20-32). 29 September-1 October, 2010.

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Author Benckendorff, Pierre
Blackman, Anna
Title of paper Learning and earning: What can business students learn from part-time employment
Conference name 2010 ACEN National Conference
Conference location Perth, WA, Australia
Conference dates 29 September-1 October, 2010
Proceedings title Proceedings: Work Integrated Learning – Responding to Challenges
Place of Publication Rockhampton, Qld, Australia
Publisher Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN)
Publication Year 2010
Year available 2010
Sub-type Fully published paper
Open Access Status
ISBN 9780980570618
Editor Matthew Campbell
Start page 20
End page 32
Total pages 13
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
There is substantial evidence from the USA, UK and Australia that greater numbers of university students are mixing their studies with paid employment. The high rate of student participation in the labour market raises a number of interesting questions, particularly for those students enrolled in vocational courses such as business. Anecdotal evidence suggests that these students are developing a range of practical skills and knowledge about the world of work and the operation of real businesses. However, there is little empirical research investigating what skills and learning benefits business students might gain from part-time work. More importantly, it is unclear whether students can easily connect learning in the workplace with learning in the classroom environment.


The purpose of this study is to evaluate the role of part-time work in helping business students understand the world of work and in allowing them to integrate theory and practice.


Ninety-seven business students were surveyed mid-semester following a one hour workshop designed to encourage students to reflect on informal learning and tacit knowledge acquired in the workplace.


The results indicate that students found the intervention useful but that it did not change their perspectives about their paid part-time work. The results also show that a majority of business students do perceive some congruence between their work and academic studies. In addition, paid part-time work is perceived as a useful activity for developing a number of transferrable skills, most notably interpersonal skills, teamwork and adaptability, numeracy skills, problem solving and communication. The analysis reveals that work/study congruence has an important influence on both job satisfaction and satisfaction with academic performance. Part-time work appears to contribute to academic performance by developing business knowledge and skills that are transferable to university contexts and by providing students with a more grounded perspective which allows them grasp abstract academic concepts more quickly and easily.


If part-time work does have useful integrative learning outcomes for business students and if appropriately designed pedagogy can assists students to integrate their experiences in the workplace with the curriculum then paid part-time work may be a useful alternative to more costly Work Integrated Learning programs in business.
Keyword Part-time work
Workplace learning
Q-Index Code E1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Conference Paper
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
UQ Business School Publications
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Created: Mon, 20 Dec 2010, 13:04:56 EST by Dr Pierre Benckendorff on behalf of School of Tourism