Designing Work Integrated Learning to optimise student employment readiness

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 38: Learning for Life and Work in a Complex World

July, 2015, 528 pages
Published by
T. Thomas, E. Levin, P. Dawson, K. Fraser & R. Hadgraft

The need for graduates to be prepared for an unpredictable and complex workplace is challenging the traditional content-driven paradigm of a university education. Work integrated learning (WIL) is internationally recognised as a strategy for nurturing employability capabilities in students. Curriculum design where skill development is scaffolded vertically and horizontally is essential for experiential learning. This research was an Office of Learning and Teaching funded project: Assessing the impact of work integrated learning on student work- readiness. The research highlights the components of a quality WIL curriculum for optimal employability outcomes. Five studies were conducted to capture both qualitative and quantitative data from key stakeholders including employers, graduates and current students which together provided a rigorous evidence-base for identifying the components of a quality WIL curriculum. The findings from this research identified the key curriculum dimensions that contribute to quality learning outcomes for students thereby enhancing the acquisition of employability capabilities. A focus on integration of theory and practice in learning outcomes and assessment, student preparation and debriefing activities, active supervision with constructive feedback, the authenticity of the learning experience, and robust partnerships with host organisations have emerged as essential elements of an experiential curriculum. This research informs curriculum design, assessment methodologies and partnership models.

Keywords:Employability, integration, curriculum