Work-Integrated Learning - A template for Good Practice - Supervisors' Reflections
This research project was conducted for the purpose of developing a Template for Good Practice in Work Integrated Learning (WIL) programs.
Andy Martin, Malcolm Rees, Manvir Edwards - Massey University
Date: October 2011
This research project was conducted for the purpose of developing a Template for Good Practice in Work Integrated Learning (WIL) programs, which forms part of a set of 4 resources How to Make the Most of Work-Integrated Learning
WIL is the heart of the programme
WIL inspires students
WIL is fantastic for setting up networks
Work Integrated Learning (WIL) is a structured educational strategy, which aims to merge theoretical knowledge gained in academic studies to workplace experiences by developing relevant professional skills in preparation for future career opportunities (Coll & Eames, 2004; Little & Harvey, 2006; Martin, Fleming, Ferkins, Wiersma & Coll, 2010). It is a bridge for the student between the academic present and their professional future.
WIL programmes seek to provide graduates with a comprehensive industry skill set desired by potential employers, in particular the development of behavioural competencies such as self confidence, communication, customer relationship management, initiative, and relationship building (Archer & Davidson, 2008; Dressler & Keeling, 2004; Fleming & Ferkins, 2006; Martin & Hughes, 2009). These personal attributes and graduate capabilities are important for success in the workplace (Bell, Crebert, Patrick, Bates & Cragnolini, 2003).
There are a variety of terminologies for WIL. WIL is also known as sandwich degrees (Ward & Jefferies, 2004), cooperative education, internships or practicum (Sovilla & Varty, 2004) depending on the international context. The World Association of Cooperative Education (WACE) combines both cooperative education and WIL (WACE, 2011). Regardless of the terminology, WIL provides a tripartite partnership between the student, the workplace organisation, and the university (Fleming & Martin, 2007).
It's a partnership between [the work force] and [the institution] to build capacity in the workforce for the region
There is increasing emphasis on WIL or work-based experiential learning within tertiary organisations (in New Zealand and Australia) to enhance graduates‟ employability (Newcastle University, Australia, 2008). Experiential learning is a cyclical process that involves observation, reflection and action (Dewey, 1938).
Developing our students‟ employability... by increasingly embedding workplace and applied learning opportunities within the curriculum (Massey University, 2011, p.7)
Advancement of WIL
The inclusion of a WIL dimension in the Australasian Survey of Student Engagement (AUSSE) Institution Report highlights the importance of this activity for students. The AUSSE provides information for stimulating evidence-based conversations about the quality of student engagement in university education (Coates, 2011). The AUSSE is conducted by, for, and with participating tertiary institutions. Clearly then there is an increasing interest in this area of teaching and learning. Coates (cited in Higher Education Update, 2011, p. 13) states that:
If learning how to think is the primary purpose of University then getting a job at the end likely comes a close second.
This current publication is aimed at any tertiary provider either offering or considering WIL as an option for enhancing student learning. „A template for good practice‟ focuses on practical information for students, lecturers, and employers and is based on six themes. Quotes from academic supervisors interviewed for this research project are used to highlight each of the key themes.
This research project was conducted for the purpose of developing a Template for Good Practice in Work Integrated Learning (WIL) programs. The key good practices for each of the six common areas are briefly listed below:
1. Organisation set- up
a. Placement requirements and support
b. Placement selection and location
c. Risk management issues
2. Student preparation
a. Pre-requisites and theoretical basis
b. Careers interview skills and CV preparation
c. Readiness for practice
a. On campus academic supervisor and mentor
b. Work place employer
c. Work place university staff
b. Communication and people skills
d. Professional standards
a. Scenario based learning and project work
b. Theory lectures and labs
c. Oral presentations
a. Learning contract
b. Reflective journal
c. Final report
d. Industry based competency checks
e. Oral presentations