Early applied experience: helping first-year students to bridge theory-practice gaps

Rachel Maunder, Jacqui Taylor (Editor), Julie A Hulme (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportGuide or Manual


This case study reports on a first-year module on developmental and educational psychology, where we have included a volunteering placement in an education setting as part of the required activities. Students are asked to identify and organise an educational volunteering opportunity, which subsequently forms part of their module assessment. The aim of the volunteering is to help them gain valuable experience in education settings which contributes to employability skills and CV development; alongside helping them to build links between theory and practice. The structure of the module, and activities for them to complete in relation to their volunteering, encourage them to reflect on the observations and experiences they have made, and consider how these compare and contrast to psychological theory and research in the field of developmental and educational psychology. This experience at year one is built upon by further (and more extensive) volunteering opportunities in years two and three. These opportunities reflect the progression of students – moving from more descriptive tasks in year one (relating observations to theory) to critically reflective tasks in year three (evaluating a service or provision) - thus enabling the students to gain extensive educational experience, whilst also demonstrating their ability to apply the theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom to real-world settings. Not only is this useful for their learning, but also for their ongoing career development when they graduate.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Educational psychology
  • placement
  • volunteering
  • theory-practice links
  • employability

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