Between college and work in the Further Education and Training College sector
Students studying Civil Engineering (CE) at the Further Education and Training (FET) colleges spend periods of time in the classroom and workshop as well as in the workplace during experiential learning. The overall purpose of education and training in the college sector is generally understood as preparing students for employability, and difficulties in colleges performing this role are well known. In this article, these difficulties are examined in a novel way. The everyday perspectives of lecturers and supervisors about student learning in their college programmes and their work experience are translated into more theoretical language, using activity theory. A theoretical argument is made, which suggests that different sites of learning create different purposes, and that these different purposes derive from a distinction between knowledge and practice, which in turn has historical roots. The study concludes by suggesting that a new, common object of integrating theory and practice at all the sites would better link the college and workplace education and training systems, and tentatively suggests how this new object could be put into practice.
Key words: activity theory; civil engineering; further education and training; theory and practice