Interns investigate their working and learning

Exemplarily shown for business internships of students at Austrian higher vocational colleges.

PEARL studied the different experiences gained by pupils in full-time vocational schools in Austria during their internship. Researchers from the University of Innsbruck, pupils and teachers from the Higher Technical and Vocational College (HTL) Innsbruck and the Higher School of Tourism (HLT) Bludenz worked together to explore the real-world internship. The focus of the project was on the acquisition, reflection and design of the teaching and learning processes in the internship.

As ethnographers, pupils explored the real-world internship. In order to make their experiences empirically graspable, different methods of ethnographic research such as observation or taking pictures were combined with the action oriented teaching method. These different case studies were analysed in collaboration with the students and teachers by using the Grounded Theory Method.

In PEARL we expected findings on an educational theoretical level, as well as the didactical level. On the one hand, there was the question which various forms of connectivity in terms of a combination of theory and professional practice are implemented. On the other hand, we expected findings on different quality criteria concerning internships from the pupils’ perspective. Such quality criteria are central for the selection of internships, the systematic establishment of long-term cooperation with partner companies, the evaluation of work experience and the didactical support of practical phases. The didactic level explicitly included the development of material for guiding internships.

The dissemination of the results took place, for example in the form of internal teacher training, the design of training and continuing education courses or participating in the long night of research (Lange Nacht der Forschung). The findings were disseminated in the form of publications and conference contributions as well.

This project has been completed.