A social science perspective on veterinary practice: Implications for higher education

Emma Scholz, Sharanne Raidal, Franziska Trede

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Veterinary practice is a broad sphere of professional activity encompassing clinical activity and other vocational opportunities conducted in rapidly changing contemporary social conditions. Workplace learning is an important but resource-intensive component of educating students for practice. This conceptual article argues that literature on workplace learning in the veterinary context is dominated by descriptive accounts and that there is a dearth of theoretically informed research on this topic. Framing veterinary practice as a social, relational, and discursive practice supports the use of workplace learning theories developed from a sociocultural perspective. Situated learning theory, with its associated concepts of communities of practice and legitimate peripheral participation, and workplace learning theory focused on workplace affordances and learner agency are discussed. Two composite examples of student feedback from veterinary clinical learning illustrate the concepts, drawing out such themes as the roles of teachers and learners and the assessment of integrated practice. The theoretical perspective described in this article can be used to inform development of models of workplace learning in veterinary clinical settings; relevant examples from medical education are presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-362
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Veterinary Medical Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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