Friday, 5 September 2014

eResource: Work Integrated Learning

Good Practice Report: Work Integrated Learning from Uni. of Southern Queensland on Vimeo.

Work Integrated Learning Report

Report Link:

Related Publications:

Cooper L, Orrell J, Bowden M (2010) Work Integrated Learning: A Guide to Effective Practice. Taylor & Francis, NY

Context and Development of the Report

The Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) commissioned this report to identify good practices in work-integrated learning (WIL) in Australia through a systematic review of 28 funded studies’ final reports, including WIL and discipline scoping studies, fellowships and projects.
WIL is delineated in this report as the intentional integration of theory and practice knowledge, and a WIL program provides the means to enable this integration and may, or may not, include a placement in a workplace, or a community or civic arena.

The diversity of interests within the reviewed projects points to the scope of WIL as a field of practice. A matrix was developed which identified four major WIL domains and eight dimensions to map the WIL landscape and contextualise the projects.

The following questions structure the report reviews:
  1. What was the scope of WIL practice in the study or project? (e.g. single program, discipline-wide, multi-disciplinary, sector-wide, multi-institutional) 
  2. How are WIL and its purposes conceptualised explicitly or tacitly? 
  3. Did the conceptualisation challenge current WIL conceptions and practices? 
  4. What strategies for success were identified and what are the leadership, management and educational implications? 
  5. Was there attention to issues of equity, access and risk mitigation?


Key outcomes of the reviewed studies recognise essential institutional, educational and partnership elements for successful WIL, as outlined below:
  • a clearly articulated, shared vision of WIL within the university, including a shared understanding of its purposes and expectations; 
  • a realistic recognition of WIL in institutional systems and infrastructure together with the provision of adequate resources; 
  • recognition and legitimation within disciplinary communities of the practice-generated knowledge, and the distinctive and complementary roles the university and workplace have in shaping and supporting the learning; 
  • and engaging and utilising existing institutionally-provided enabling services such as careers services in the WIL process.
  • adequate induction and preparation of students prior to their practice-based experiences; 
  • providing structured, critically reflective, self and peer learning processes during and after WIL experiences; 
  • presence of an element of risk to contribute to profound learning for students (the corollary is the futility of unchallenging placements); 
  • and investing in the development, trialling and up-scaling of technology-based tools to provide alternative or supplementary WIL experiences, and their integration in curriculum development and institutional strategic plans.
  • ensuring supervisory staff familiarity with students’ prior university learning; 
  • identifying and
  • including all stakeholders in development, innovation and communication regarding WIL;
  • induction/professional development for university and host-organisation supervisory staff and
  • development of their leadership capabilities; 
  • and robust and mature relationships with placement providers (host organisations) underpinned by a commitment to mutual benefit.

Report Author 

Professor Janice Orrell

Professor Janice Orrell has been an educator for over 47 years. She has taught in rural, remote and urban Schools in Western Australia and South Australia; an International School in Southern India. She has taught communication and developmental, health and educational psychology in Aboriginal Teacher Education and Nursing Education.  Her primary interests are in education for practice and assessment. Her research is in the fields of university learning and teaching; assessment in higher education; education for practice (WIL); quality assurance in HE; research education and leadership and management in higher education. She is currently a Professor of Assessment in Medical Education and a supervisor of 7 PhD and Ed Doc candidates in Flinders University's School of Education.

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