The link between knowledge and the professional identity of students


The acquisition of practical knowledge is central to student learning in higher professional education. But what role does theoretical knowledge play in the development process of these students? And how does this knowledge influence their professional conduct and professional identity?

Students in higher professional education are educated to become a high level professional. It is known that higher education enables students to make the transformation from secondary school pupil to a professional in society, by interacting with knowledge. However, it is not clear how this interaction with knowledge and practise creates the transformation of the students’ own professionalism. Research within universities has revealed that the condition for this transformation’s success is that the student understands the need for the transformation and is willing to undergo it. However, this knowledge is insufficient for the setting of higher professional education. After all, in traditional university study programmes, professional practice and practical knowledge play a much smaller role, whereas abstract knowledge plays a bigger role.

This longitudinal project systematically explores students’ interaction with knowledge and practice during their Bachelor’s degree, to understand how this interaction can lead to the required transformation of students’ professionalism. This understanding is important for both higher education research and for higher education practice.

The central question in this study is:

What role do knowledge and practice play in the development of bachelor students’ professionalism?

For this research, four times 25 students from four different study programmes are tracked throughout their bachelor programme by undergoing interviews, questionnaires and tests. The results are reported for each study programme, but are also compared between study programmes. This project is being conducted in collaboration with Prof. Paul Ashwin from Lancaster University (UK), who conducts similar projects in the UK, South Africa and the United States.

Gepubliceerd door  Higher Education, Research and Innovation 17 juni 2022

Project Info

Startdatum 01 sep 2019


Kasja Weenink