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Investigating the 'integrated' in work-integrated learning.

Version 2 2024-06-17, 06:47
Version 1 2014-10-28, 08:47
conference contribution
posted on 2024-06-17, 06:47 authored by R Coll, C Eames, L Paku, M Lay, D Ayling, D Hodges, S Ram, R Bhat, J Fleming, L Ferkins, C Wiersma, A Martin
Work-integrated learning (WIL) is an educational strategy in which students undergo conventional academic learning with an educational institution, and combine this with some time spent in a workplace relevant to their program of study and career aims. It goes under a number of names internationally; sandwich degree (Ward & Jefferies, 2004); cooperative education; and internships (Groenewald, 2004; Sovilla & Varty, 2004; Walters, 1947). The name cooperative education reflects the tripartite nature of WIL in which the student, tertiary education institution (TEI), and workplace work together collaboratively to develop a comprehensive skill set in students (Coll, 1996). Recently the World Association for Cooperative Education added 'integrated' in a by-line to its name to reflect a broader perspective of the nature of cooperative education that can include capstone programs [practicum], internships, sandwich degrees, and work-based learning via industry projects (Franks & Blomqvist, 2004). A key aspect of WIL is the notion that it entails the integration of knowledge and skills gained in the educational institution and in the workplace. It is the integration aspect of WIL that distinguishes it from workplace learning (i.e., simply what a student or employee learns in the workplace, see Boud & Falchikov, 2006).

Eames (2003) notes that whilst there is a rich literature on the success of WIL programs, such research is almost entirely concerned with what he terms 'operational outcomes', such as benefits for students (Dressler & Keeling, 2004), employers (Braunstein & Loken, 2004), and TEIs (Weisz & Chapman, 2004). For example, it has been reported that compared with conventional graduates students who participate in WIL programs gain employment more easily, fit in better in the workplace, advance more rapidly in their careers, and so on (Dressler & Keeling, 2004). However, there is a serious paucity of research into what WIL students learn, how they learn, whom they learn from (Eames & Bell, 2005), and how the learning might be better facilitated and supported. A key purpose of work-integrated learning is the notion of providing graduates with a comprehensive skill set desired by potential employers. However, the literature notes that it is problematic for tertiary education providers to provide students with such skills, especially behavioural skills; the so-called soft skills (Burchell, Hodges & Rainsbury, 2000; Coll & Zegwaard, 2006). In what way does the student take what he or she has learned into the workplace, and conversely in what way does what the student learns in the workplace become related to, or incorporated into, the next phase of academic learning when he or she returns to the TEI after completing a work-placement?





New Plymouth, N. Z.

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Publication classification

E1.1 Full written paper - refereed


Coll R, Hoskyn K

Title of proceedings

NZACE 2008 : Proceedings of the 11th New Zealand Association of Cooperative Education Conference : Working Together : Putting the Cooperative into Cooperative Education


New Zealand Association of Cooperative Education. Conference (11th : 2008 : New Plymouth, N.Z.)


New Zealand Association for Cooperative Education

Place of publication

[Hamilton, N.Z.]

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