What it means to become a public relations professional: student perceptions of professional identity through real-world learning

Authors: Amisha Mehta and Ingrid Larkin, Queensland University of Technology
Published: 2009, Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, Volume 10
Abstract: Public relations educators need new solutions to prepare students to become tomorrow’s practitioner today. Managers and employers in the new creative workforce (McWilliam, 2008) expect graduates to be problem solvers, critical and creative thinkers, reflective, and self reliant (Barrie, 2008; David, 2004). Enabling students to develop these attributes requires a collaborative and creative approach to pedagogy (Jeffrey & Craft, 2001, 2004). A model for the next generation of public relations education was developed to integrate industry partnerships as a way to bridge pedagogy and professional practice. The model suggests (a) that industry partnerships be embedded in learning activities, (b) that assessment items be considered on a continuum and delivered incrementally across a course of study, and (c) that connections between classroom and workplace activities are clearly signposted for students. 

This study reports on the first part of the model by examining how student perceptions of real-world industry partnerships contribute to learning outcomes and preparedness for practice. The paper provides educators with reference points to see how students interpret, and apply, knowledge and skills gained in classrooms to practice settings.

Keywords: Education, Professional Identity, Real-World Learning.