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    Getting students out there; using community partnerships to engage students

    Cain, Liz, Goldring, John E and Scott Jones, Julie (2022) Getting students out there; using community partnerships to engage students. Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning, 12 (4). pp. 763-774. ISSN 2042-3896

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    Abstract

    Purpose The purpose of the paper is to discuss the “Q-Step in the Community” programme, part of the Q-Step Centre based in the Sociology Department at Manchester Metropolitan University, designed to help address the skills gap in quantitative methods (QM) that is evident across parts of the UK higher-education sector. “Q-Step in the Community” is a data-driven work-based learning programme that works in partnership with local organisations to provide placement opportunities for final year undergraduates and postgraduates. Students conduct a quantitative research project, which is typically identified by the placement provider. Design/methodology/approach The authors use quantitative and qualitative feedback from students and placement providers, along with our own reflections on the process to evaluate the placement programme. Data were collected through a focus group and email interviews with placement providers, along with a questionnaire, which was distributed to “Q-Step in the Community” alumni. Findings Data-driven work-based learning opportunities allow students to develop and demonstrate their quantitative skills and support networking opportunities whilst also developing valuable soft-skills experience of the workplace that develops their career-readiness. In addition, those opportunities provide valuable research for placement providers, which support their sustainability and enhance their service delivery. Research limitations/implications The research focusses solely on one programme at one university offering quantitative data driven work-based learning opportunities at undergraduate and post-graduate level. It is not possible to make valid comparisons between those who do a placement with those who do not. Originality/value Views of key stakeholders in the process have been sought for this research, which can be useful to consider for others considering developing similar programmes for their students.

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