Construction and engineering Higher Education: the role of pracademics in recoupling classical experiential educational norms

Alan M. Forster*, Nick Pilcher, Mike Murray, Stuart Tennant, Nigel Craig, Laurent Galbrun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter considers the development of construction and engineering education that historically chartered an increasingly decoupled trajectory from being practical in nature, to include progressively more theoretical instruction. Indeed, over the last half century, construction and engineering education has become increasingly theoretical, and is now arguably delivered by academic staff with little practical experience of the discipline. This could be detrimental to those learning an inherently vocational subject, and perhaps understandably, calls to recouple theory and practice have recently gained traction, through vehicles such as Higher Education Apprenticeships. Whilst largely seen as positive, such recoupling may potentially create problems for the current staff base that are often characterised as ‘career academics’ with often limited ‘real world’ experience. Conversely, academics with industrial experience (or pracademics) are arguably better equipped to bridge theory and practice. Yet, ‘pracademics’ frequently feel an insecurity of identity associated with ‘imposter syndrome’ in a research-dominated Higher Education (HE) context. However, rather than being imposters, we argue ‘pracademics’ have a lineage going back centuries. We highlight the important role that pracademics play in bridging theory and practice and allude to their importance in achieving high quality, contextualised student focused experiential learning that is set to be an increasingly important aspect of HE provision.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProfessional Development for Practitioners in Academia
Subtitle of host publicationPracademia
EditorsJill Dickinson, Teri-Lisa Griffiths
PublisherSpringer Cham
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783031337468
ISBN (Print)9783031337451, 9783031337482
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2023

Publication series

NameKnowledge Studies in Higher Education
ISSN (Print)2566-7106
ISSN (Electronic)2566-8315


  • pracademic identity
  • practice-theory gap
  • experiential learning
  • construction and engineering
  • imposter syndrome
  • career academics
  • higher education apprenticeships
  • higher education policy


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