Selecting the type, timing and variety of WIL approaches to be integrated across programs is essential to achieve successful WIL outcomes.
Scope current WIL activities
Selecting the appropriate type of WIL activities for your course/program should begin with identifying the current WIL approaches already being used.
Identifying and mapping WIL activities across current programs helps you to understand the variety and timing of these activities. When revising current WIL activities, ask yourself:
- Where and when is the WIL currently happening in the program? What courses have WIL components? Are the WIL activities aligned to course and program learning objectives?
- What types and models of WIL are the students experiencing? Are the students being adequately prepared for WIL? Are students experiencing a variety of WIL activities that are scaffolded throughout the program?
- What does your industry and community partners want and expect of our students doing WIL?
Once you have revised your current WIL offerings, think about their appropriateness, impact on student learning outcomes and the value of these activities. Are these WIL activities providing students with rich and engaged learning experiences? Could you be offering WIL in different ways?
Selecting WIL models
When designing WIL activities and assessment aligned to course and program outcomes, you need to consider the needs of your students, the industry partner and the learning goals you are trying to achieve. These considerations will underpin your selection of various WIL models.
There are many different WIL approaches and strategies that integrate theory with the practice of work. Where appropriate, programs should include a variety of WIL approaches to ensure students have the opportunity to learn, apply and reflect in different workplace contexts. These various WIL approaches may build in complexity and student autonomy/responsibility throughout the program.
Many programs already have a rich tradition in placement or similar WIL schemes (often reflecting professional association requirements). For example:
- Education, social science, clinical and other health professions all have extensive practicum, placement or clinical practice schemes.
- Industry - or community - based projects including design, engineering, and business.
- Simulated professional practices in simulated workplace environments such as roleplays in Juris Doctor.
Often there are multiple models of WIL integrated throughout a program; for example, business programs can include both placements and industry projects completed on campus.
Once you’ve reviewed the current WIL activities in your programs, you may decide to integrate more WIL across various courses or make changes to what you currently do. Ensure that WIL activities:
- are scaffolded throughout the program to enable students to progress from simple to more complex and possibly more autonomous experiences;
- engage students in meaningful and consequential activities;
- are linked to learning outcomes and are assessed in line with the university’s assessment policy;
- involve authentic engagement with industry and community (including WIL in simulated workplace environments) and include industry feedback;
- are linked to the development and application of graduate attributes and employability skills;
- include preparation, supervision, reflection and feedback – for all stakeholders;
- are negotiated and designed to be equitable and mutually beneficial for all stakeholders;
- where possible, include a variety of WIL activities that are integrated across the whole-of-program, and
- have considered university policies, regulations, legislative and professional accreditation requirements, intellectual property, ethics and confidentiality issues.
Student preparation for WIL
The activities involved in preparing students for WIL will depend upon the type of WIL and its location. Students need to be thoroughly prepared before they participate in WIL, especially if they go on placement. Embedding student preparation activities into courses through learning and assessment activities ensures the value and importance of preparation is given due consideration.
RMIT’s Careers Toolkit provides an online ‘WIL Ready’ set of modules for students to work through to support their preparation processes.
Staff managing WIL activities are advised to follow the WIL administration processes that have been designed to support WIL procedures and ensure all WIL requirements are met at each stage of the activity.
During WIL activities
Students need to be monitored and supervised during their WIL activities. The monitoring of progress and learning may occur in many ways. Both workplace supervisors and university staff need to determine the type, frequency and channels through which they will supervise students. Reflective learning and assessment activities should be embedded throughout the WIL curriculum.
After WIL activities
Students should be debriefed and reflect on their learning at the completion of any WIL activity. WIL assessments (both formative and summative) should be designed to capture the students’ reflection on their learning and provide an opportunity to evidence what they have achieved. All students should be given the opportunity to provide feedback after their WIL activity to both the industry/community partner and the university.
Equity and access
For many discipline areas the type of WIL, number of hours, etc. is determined by the professional accreditation requirements. There may be some flexibility with these WIL requirements or they may be quite rigid. When you have the opportunity to design or adapt WIL activities, it is important to be mindful and considerate of all students’ needs and not create WIL situations that may create undue hardship. For example, a student who is working and has to give up that paid position to complete an unpaid placement may suffer hardship due to the loss of income.
For assistance with adapting WIL activities for students living with disability, long-term illness or mental health condition, please refer to the DLU.