Benefits of a placement year: Degree marks and beyond.

Dr Liz Moores, LHS

Reddy and Moores (2006) found that students who took psychology placements achieved higher final year marks and were rated more favourably by academic staff on a measure of transferable skills. In this project, we investigate whether a psychology placement year is ‘worth it’ for several groups of people in terms of both academic and career success. In terms of academic benefits, key findings so far are that: (i)  a psychology placement was found to confer an academic advantage of similar magnitude to other subjects with an optional placement year, (ii) this effect was similar across ethnicities and socioeconomic groups, although some ethnicities were less likely to choose to take a placement year in the first place, (iii) the placement year academic advantage is not due to just being one year older, (iv) students scoring in the 2.2 range in their second year gain a greater advantage in the final year from doing a placement. In terms of career success, DLHE survey data 6 months post-graduation suggest that: (i) placement students across the university are more likely to be in work than non placement students, and (ii) that students who have taken a placement are more likely to be in graduate level jobs. This holds true for psychology students as well, in particular amongst graduates with 2.1 class degrees. A survey of psychology alumni has recently been initiated in order to investigate whether placements give longer lasting benefits on various measures of objective and subjective career success. In particular we are interested whether a year spent on placement puts graduates at least a year ahead in terms of career. Preliminary results and methods will be discussed.