Workplace Learning in Dual Higher Professional Education

Marloes Reenalda, Cindy Poortman, Wim Nijhof, Loek Nieuwenhuis

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Workplace learning is considered an effective strategy for the development of vocation, career and professional identity. Dual training programs, in which learning at a vocational school and learning at work in a company are combined, are seen as strong carriers for skill formation processes. In this study we explore workplace learning in dual training programs in Dutch higher professional education. To gain an understanding of these learning environments and processes, a qualitative multiple case study was conducted in seven sectors. The findings show substantial differences in learning environments between and within sectors. However, cooperation between school and practice is minimal in all of the cases. Although students develop personal and job-related competencies that are useful for daily work routines, they acquire hardly any profound theoretical knowledge at the workplace. School fails to direct workplace learning. Given the considerable share of workplace learning in dual training programs, and the demands to higher professional education graduates in terms of being able to solve complex problems and develop new knowledge during their career as reflective practitioners, it is important that these shortcomings are resolved. More promising alternatives for workplace learning environments and questions for further research to improve workplace learning in higher professional education are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)167-190
    Number of pages24
    JournalVocations and Learning
    Issue number2
    Early online date14 Mar 2014
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


    • Workplace learning
    • Dual training programs
    • Higher professional education
    • Learning environment
    • Case studies
    • Qualitative research


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