From postgraduate student to professional: Work-based learning in psychology

Document Type

Journal Article


WA Institute for Educational Research


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Psychology and Social Science




Breen, L., Pike, L. T., & Arco, L. (2003). From postgraduate student to professional: Work-based learning in psychology. Issues In Educational Research, 13(1), 13-30. Available here


Professional courses in higher education are a suitable domain for investigating the link between coursework and the applied setting via work-based learning (WBL). However, standardised evaluation procedures for WBL are rare. In this study, seventy-four psychologists involved in work-based supervision of psychology postgraduates in Perth, Western Australia, completed a questionnaire. They rated 59 skills according to the level of student competency expected for practica they supervise. Ten of these participants were interviewed to ascertain their views regarding skills training in psychology at the postgraduate level. Results indicate professional conduct skills were most important, followed (in order) by generic skills, intervention skills, assessment skills, and research skills. The supervisors expected students to be competent in administering, scoring, and interpreting a small number of widely used psychological tests. Professional relationships between the student, the WBL supervisor, and the university were important. Recommendations for WBL in postgraduate psychology training are discussed. The research provides a model that ascertains an understanding of the baseline level of skills sought by agencies and organisations where students are placed, informs skills training throughout applied programmes, and form the basis for ongoing evaluation of the teaching of skills within higher education.

Access Rights