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The information thus gathered can then be used to build and develop their e‐portfolios, adding a practical dimension to round out the skills and knowledge already embedded in the portfolio.There is a considerable amount of literature on the rationale for seeing work‐based or experiential learning as an important addition to academic studies with, for example, Harris and Bone (1999) talking of “reclaiming of workplaces as legitimate learning environments”. 12) have drawn on the work of psychologist David Kolb, quoting him as concluding that “learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” with practicums providing the opportunity for resolving conflicts between the practice and theory; concepts and experience.Another issue that may impact on the effectiveness of any practicum is the often perceived “gap” between LIS practitioners and LIS educators.
In addition, Tucker and Torrence (2004) note that the practicum should focus on areas in which a real student contribution can be made within the limited time frame available, and should exclude those areas in which it is not possible to provide a meaningful experience in the context of an LIS program.
For the host institution, there can be real benefits with a recent survey undertaken in the University of Tennessee reporting that LIS practicum students bring their own motivation to excel and were generally seen as valuable resources for their host institutions (Starmer, 2005).
by changing behaviours, broadening understanding etc) (Alderman and Milne, 2005, p. Beard (1995), when discussing the problems of a practical placement, raised the issue that practical placements for students of librarianship are especially problematic as the student, often straight from school, needs experience of the “working world” and its expectations more broadly, as well as those specific to library and information work.
These two needs may conflict, resulting in a disconnect for students and frustration for the host institution.
For students with little or no experience, this placement opportunity may be seen as an essential part of their learning process, providing the context to help consolidate their academic education.
Students also often report benefits from such a placement activity with comments referring to their value, particularly in relation to job seeking.
The collaboration required to establish a successful practicum may be one way to help bridge this gap and can be an unintended but positive spin‐off for practitioners, faculty and students alike as such collaboration is also in students' best interest.
In order for the experience to be positive for all parties, each stakeholder must see the benefits and added value of cooperation.
In a competitive job market, “the LIS practicum became an invaluable asset”.
Tucker and Torrence (2004) confirm this, noting that many practitioners believe that recent graduates do not have the necessary skills, simply due to lack of applied experience and education – again, emphasising the value of that experience for gaining employment.