Placement training and learning outcome in social work education


​Field placement has traditionally been an important component of professional and vocational education programmes, and there is a growing interest in workplace experience in higher education programmes in general. In this article, we examine the direct and the indirect links between classroom preparation for placement, placement quality and programme coherence, and the development of student learning outcomes (general competence, knowledge and skills).

Using a longitudinal survey of social work students, combined with data from national registers, we find that programme coherence has a direct positive impact on all three types of learning outcomes, classroom preparation for placement has a positive direct impact on knowledge and general competence, while placement quality only indirectly relates to student learning outcomes and is mediated by programme coherence. Placement quality is therefore important, but its positive impact on learning outcomes depends on whether it has a spillover effect on students’ experience of programme coherence.​