Assessing WIL provides opportunities for students to demonstrate and evidence what they have learned and reflect on how to further develop their skills and knowledge.
It is complex and challenging to authentically assess Work Integrated Learning. Students’ WIL experiences in different workplace contexts will vary considerably, often in unpredictable environments where it is difficult to capture the evidence of learning. Developing valid and reliable measures that ensure fair and equitable assessment can be difficult. The following tips and links to some great WIL assessment resources aim to assist you in developing quality authentic WIL assessments.
Principles of WIL assessment
- WIL is a formal component of the program and therefore should be assessed formally.
- Assessment should focus on the integration and application of theoretical knowledge into practice and ‘real-world’ situations.
- Learning outcomes should be explicitly articulated and aligned to core curricula and guide students in the assessment process.
- All stakeholders in WIL should have an active role in the assessment process.
- Students should receive feedback on their progress during WIL activities so they can make adjustments to their practice where required. (Adapted from Orrell, Cooper and Bowden ‘Work integrated learning: a guide to effective practice’ 2010 – ch 5).
When designing WIL assessments to determine the quality of students’ performance in a workplace context and to evidence learning, think about:
- Why assess?
- What to assess?
- How to assess?
- How to interpret?
- How to report?
- When to assess?
- Before the WIL activity to check that students are well prepared.
- During the WIL activity to provide formative feedback allowing students to adjust their behaviour.
- After the WIL activity so students can reflect and self-evaluate their performance.
Strategies for WIL assessment
Assessors use a range of strategies for assessing WIL. The following list is adapted from Edith Cowan University’s WIL resources. Some examples of formative and summative WIL assessments include:
- Learning portfolio/e-Portfolio containing reflections and evidence.
- Written and/or oral presentations to industry and community partners.
- Project/placement-based reports.
- Project/placement product.
- Direct observation of a skill or performance by host supervisor, external evaluator and/or an academic supervisor at placement site.
- Competency tests held at placement site.
- Host supervisor report - third party performance appraisals, reviews and feedback are all valuable contributions to assessing student performance during WIL.
- Project plans.
- Reflections e.g. journals or on-line discussions, visual representations, storytelling.
- Personal reports (distilled reflective journals or diaries).
- Demonstrations of practical skills (portfolios of evidence).
- Oral tools e.g. role plays, practical tests, moot courts, classroom or online debates (Winchester-Seeto, et al., 2010).
Who should be involved in assessment?
You may have a range of people involved in assessment including:
- Industry partners and students co-designing assessments with university staff
- External assessors from industry for professional accreditation
- Workplace supervisors or mentors who have experience in assessing students
- University staff