I continue to share brief lessons from the modules in Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching. You can enrol here.

Work integrated learning is Module 13 and part of the ‘Enhancing student learning’ pathway through the course.

Developed by Leonie Russell (RMIT) and Lisa Milne (University of Wollongong), this module asks two big questions: What is work integrated learning (WIL), and why embed it into the student learning experience? What does quality WIL look like in practice?

Broadly speaking, WIL is a pedagogical practice in which students learn in and through partnerships with industry, community, business and the university.

Key components of WIL

The key components of work integrated learning are:

• purposefully designed WIL curriculum that includes preparation, ongoing monitoring and supervision, debriefing and authentic assessment;
• WIL activities aligned to course/unit learning outcomes; and
• students being engaged authentically with industry/community partners.

What does WIL look like in practice?

WIL may take the form of clinical practicums, co-operative education, internships, service learning, fieldwork, industry-partnered projects or simulated workplace environments. Innovative models of WIL are emerging, such as micro-internships, online and virtual WIL projects (sometimes with international partners), WIL in incubators and WIL as business start-ups.

Designing and implementing WIL opportunities

Key considerations when designing and implementing WIL opportunities include:

Whole-of-program approachWIL is mapped across various courses in a cohesive, integrated way to ensure the ongoing development of knowledge, skills, practice and confidence. This approach supports the next point below.
Scaffolding WIL throughout a programEnables progression from simple to increasingly complex and challenging experiences. Scaffolding various types of WIL across the entire curriculum helps to build students’ autonomy and responsibility as they move towards more complex and meaningful tasks across a degree program.
Diverse WIL approachesExposes students to a range of industry and community partners and contexts.
Explicit alignment of WIL activities with learning outcomes and assessmentEnsures stakeholders are focused and expectations are clear.
WIL preparation and induction activitiesIntegrating within the curriculum prepares students professionally and academically.
Equity and accessibility for all studentsAccounts for physical, social, cultural, economic and mental barriers.
Integration of learning supportCounselling, induction at workplace, access to learning resources and ongoing supervisor access from both the host organisation and the institution is vital to quality WIL experiences.
Clearly articulated development of graduate attributesThe application of discipline-specific skills and knowledge.
Encouraging critical reflection, debriefing and evaluationEnsures feedback from students and host organisations is considered and actioned where appropriate.
Table source: Campbell, M., Russell, L., & Higgs, J. (2014). Models of WIL. In Ferns. S (Ed), Work integrated learning in the Curriculum (p. 21). Milperra, NSW: Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australia (HERDSA Inc).

If you are interested in evaluating your WIL practice, check out this self-audit tool developed by the Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN). It is just one of the wealth of resources available in the Work integrated learning module in the Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching MOOC!

Enrol to access more content – it’s free!

The Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching MOOC is free, self-paced and open to all. You can choose to complete just one module, a whole pathway to receive a digital badge (which is 8 modules) or more. Each module takes approximately 2 hours.

MQ resources

Previous posts in this MOOC series

  1. Teaching your first class
  2. Planning for learning
  3. Teaching today’s diverse learners
  4. Technology enhanced learning (TEL) and online learning
  5. Feedback for learning
  6. Learning Theories
  7. Sessional staff and their professional development
  8. Reflection for learning
  9. The Psychology of learners and learning
  10. Universal design for learning
  11. Collaborative learning
  12. First year transition

Banner image: Image by Adabara Ibrahim from Pixabay

Posted by Agnes Bosanquet

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *