"Gap year plus": preparing professionals, professionally

Monica Kennedy, Trish Milne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The gap year concept emerged after the Second World War and now provides a vehicle for establishing greater global and cultural understandings. The gap year period is described by King (2007) as the “zone” of transition, a transition between different “arenas” in a young person’s life. In Western countries an increasing number of students choose to defer university study for 12 months after completion of their high school study. HighBeam Research (2008) found that in Australia 15‐20% of students take a gap year (estimated 2008 figures), and as a result gain real improvements in confidence, independence, practical life skills, and subsequent university grades (Haigler & Nelson, 2005). The ‘GAP Year Plus’ program at the University of Canberra was designed to recognize the learning that occurs as students engage in work over the period of the gap year (UC 2009). The University’s tag line “Preparing Professionals, Professionally” focuses attention on the interaction between higher education and work. ‘GAP Year Plus’ encourages students to reflect critically on their experiences in this period of transition and link their learnings with professionally valuable generic attributes, in particular, lifelong learning. The program’s design is aligned with contemporary perspectives on adult learning and approaches to teaching in higher education. It is supported by Knowles’ (1970) notions of andragogy, Kolb’s (1984) experiential learning, Marsick and Watkins’ (2001) informal and incidental learning and Fenwick’s (2001) perspectives on workplace learning. The program validates the learning that students undertake at work, for work, to work and, most particularly through work in the year between school and university. This paper describes the theoretical basis on which academic credit can be gained through students’ experiences in their gap year and pragmatic issues faced in the development of ‘GAP Year Plus’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cooperative Education Internships
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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