Background: A fundamental component in professional education is the link between theory and practice. However, many students in professional education programs experience a lack of coherence between theory and practice which is often described as the theory practice gap. This PhD-project is part of ”Bridging the Gap”, a Danish research project conducted in collaboration between the Institute of Education, University of Aarhus (DPU), Danish Institute of Governmental Research (AKF), University College Capital (UCC) and the Engineering College of Aarhus. The aim of Bridging the Gap is to explore the relationship between theory and practice in teacher, nurse, social work and engineering education, and to contribute with knowledge about how to bridge the gap between theory and practice in these educations. Aim: The aim of the present study is to identify the most promising strategies for improving the relationship between theory and practice through conducting a systematic review of the international research based on qualitative and quantitative methods of relevance to the review question: “Which strategies in education affect the theory practice relation in professional education programs in teaching, nursing, engineering and social work and in other professional bachelor education programs regarding health, teaching and technology, and how?”. The systematic review consists of a research mapping which will identify and characterize the empirical research concerning the review question and a synthesis based on the empirical studies found in the research mapping. Method: A literature search was conducted in various databases within educational research, but since professional education research is often cross disciplinary, it was chosen to also search within sociological and psychological databases in order to reflect the width of the research. The search was conducted in 13 databases, representing both Scandinavian and international research. A list of inclusion and exclusion criteria was developed in order to select only the primary studies focusing on the review question. The most significant screening criteria dealt with the topic of the study while other criteria regarded methodology, educational institution, geography and time of publication. Next step in the review process was the screening of the identified studies according to the defined criteria. The screening took place in the EPPI-Reviewer, a web based software for conducting systematic reviews. The first part of the screening was based on abstracts, and the studies included in this part were then full text screened on basis of the whole document. Preliminary results: The literature search generated 4657 hits. The references were uploaded and imported in the EPPI Reviewer and duplicates were removed which left a number of 4215 references. After abstract screening, 308 studies were included based on the inclusion criteria. Of these, 85 were included after screening based on full text. The included studies deal with a number of different strategies including various types of technology supported tools for reflection and social networking, portfolio, journals, learning in practice settings, supervision, narratives, action research, case based learning, skill labs, and school-university partnerships. The next steps which will take place during winter and spring 2012 will be data extraction from the primary studies and assessment of the quality and relevance of the studies. The synthesis will be conducted as a narrative empirical synthesis which brings together the results of the primary studies in a narrative form. This method of synthesis is chosen because of the character of the studies included in the systematic review which includes both qualitative and quantitative methods and different types of research designs. As a framework for analysis, Wilfred Carr’s typology of different understandings of the theory practice relationship will be employed.
Professionsbachelor; Teori og praksis; evidenbaseret praksis