Embedding work placed learning within the Medical Science Curriculum through capstone projects: a pilot study

Christine Roberts, James Bamford, Adam Gillespie, Dylan Haughney, Jordan-Lee Morrice, Kelsey Stewart, Edward Poyner, Kevin Watson, Ken Bryson, Jenny Gregory

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Capstone projects (such UK undergraduate honours projects) are important for
consolidating previous learning and gaining practical experience. Workplace
placements are valued by students, employers and universities but typically occur outside the taught curriculum. This abstract reports and reflects on our experience of placing honours students with a local company. The primary challenges were in planning. Initial discussions between staff from University of Aberdeen and Total Endurance triathlon coaches, identified areas of mutual interest. We jointly planned a project feasible within the allocated period (10 weeks). Three students were selected each year (2018 and 2019). Each supervisor adopted complementary roles. Administration, analysis and write up were led by academic staff (JG in 2018-19, JG and CR in 2019), familiarisation and testing of the equipment was supervised jointly (with support from suppliers
Algeos) and day-to-day guidance and coaching expertise by the external supervisors (KB and KW). Regular communication and visits to each site were maintained by supervisors and students throughout, which was key to the placement success. Students worked together to perform the practical work. This included recruiting volunteers and exploring technologies for measuring gait. Technologies ranged from personal trackers (e.g. Garmin Forerunner), to those designed for research or coaching (e.g. OptoGait). The first study (2018) explored all technologies in treadmill running. The second (2019) built on this by investigating changes between treadmill and overground running and used the indoor track at Aberdeen Sports Village as an additional site. Each student had their own role within the project and a slightly different research question.
Reflecting on the experience shows many positive results from this approach. All
students reported that the placement had been a key reason for choosing the project. They particularly valued the chance to be in a professional environment and have guidance from the Total Endurance staff as well as their academic supervisors. Academically, students were not compromised by being in this environment as all achieved a mark for their project at least as high as their corresponding exam grades (2:1 or 1st class), though marks were only available for 2018 students at the time of writing. Subject-related work placements can provide a mutually beneficial experience. It enables companies to benefit from dedicated time and resources to investigate a question relevant to their business whilst students gain subject-specific experience in a professional environment. Closer links between the department and the company have also had additional benefits, as we have been able to share expertise and facilities on other occasions when mutually beneficial. Following this success, we aim to build upon this and offer more placement based projects in the future. We would like to thank Algeos Ltd.for OptoGait Training and the loan of additional equipment.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019
EventPhysiology 2019 - Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre, Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 Jul 201910 Jul 2019


ConferencePhysiology 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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