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Getting to Know More about Organisations

Introduction

There are many variables that need consideration before making a final decision about your placement. Therefore, in order to make your practicum a valuable learning experience, both you and university staff need to do a lot of work before you begin your placement.

You can use this module to find out more about a number of organisations and refine your choices. Once an organisation has been chosen, getting to know as much as possible about its structure and functioning will enable you to feel more comfortable and confident in your new setting. By reading the information and completing the activities in this module and Modules 2-5, and placing your notes and assessment activities in your Portfolio, you will build a very useful resource to help you enjoy a successful practicum.

This module provides a range of links and activities that will enable you to explore organisations that have the potential for you to undertake a variety of practice placements. The activities are designed to enable you to understand organisations and the complex economic, political and social environment in which they are located.

At the end of this module you will have:

  • Refined your choice of placement based on your personal interests and knowledge of organisations in your field.
  • Developed a profile of your host organisation’s structure and functioning.
  • Identified the host organisation’s global context.
  • Generated questions to guide your further investigation while on the placement.
  • Produced a resource of useful information for engaging with the host organisation.

Selecting an organisation

The University has many different approaches to finding placements for students. In some academic units, placement coordinators will arrange placements after consultation with the students about their interests. Sometimes students are given several choices. Some programs may not allow a selection. Whatever way the selection process is handled, it is important that students are clear about their interests. A number of Australian web sites are provided to enable you to investigate organisations that take students. This list is illustrative only, not exclusive. Go to these web sites and explore a variety of organisations to help you refine your choice of placement, then complete the activity and put it in your Portfolio.

Investigating the organisation

Once you have selected or been allocated a placement, it is a good idea to find out as much as you can about your host organisation or enterprise. Knowing about the organisation should help you feel more at home when you first arrive, as well as speeding up your learning curve on the practicum. We have provided some suggestions about additional information you can access and a brief discussion about the basics of organisations.

This discussion also provides some useful definitions and examples. As part of understanding any organisation, it is essential to understand its internal structure. You can help yourself do this by completing the activity on ‘inside the organisation’. Put this in your Portfolio and keep it with you during your placement. Now that you have a sound grounding about your host organisation, complete the quiz ‘what do you know about the host organisation?’ Add your answers to your Portfolio.

Investigating the broader context

Every organisation exists in a legal, social, political and economic context. This context profoundly determines organisations’ functioning – the constraints under which they operate, and what they can and cannot do. As well as finding out about the organisation or enterprise, it is useful to know more about the broader context within which it operates. This is particularly important because of political/economic changes that have affected Australia over the last few years. As part of understanding this broader context, read the discussion of organisational contexts, complete the case study on getting to know your community and reflect on the impact of economic and political changes on your placement organisation. Add this information to your Portfolio.

 

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