Work-integrated learning

Explaining the ambition and strategy to ensure practice-oriented learning.

Introduction

We are committed to providing practice-oriented programmes for all of our students. To help us achieve this, we incorporate work-integrated learning into every course.

We take a structured approach, using our UWE Bristol Graduate Attribute Framework and staff toolkits to identify and meet requirements. This helps us ensure that students are ready and able to go into work on graduation.

Graduate Attribute Framework

The skills our graduates develop in order to be work-ready:

  • Self-reliant and connected
  • Ready and able
  • Enterprising
  • Globally responsible
  • Future-facing

Designing practice-oriented learning

In our 2030 Strategy, we committed to providing a practice-oriented learning experience. So we have created a methodology to help us achieve this.

  1. Using our UWE Bristol Graduate Attribute Framework, we have identified the skills our graduates need in order to achieve successful professional and career progression.
  2. Teaching staff and our Careers and Enterprise Service work together to build work-integrated learning opportunities into our courses to help students develop these attributes.

    Opportunities are varied and might include:
    • Work-based placements
    • Team-based student consultancy projects or research with 'real-world' tasks set by industry experts
    • Professional simulations or role plays
    • Opportunities to pitch business or other ideas to panels of experts
    • Insight sessions from industry leaders and entrepreneurs
    • Networking opportunities with professionals from a wide range of industries ranging from large multinationals to small businesses and entrepreneurs
  3. We provide toolkits to help teaching staff design and audit practice-oriented learning opportunities including models of best practice for the design, management and administration of sandwich placements, short placements and employer-focused student project activity.
  4. The resulting outcomes are fed back annually and programmes regularly assessed against the UWE Bristol Graduate Attribute Framework.

The UWE 2030 Strategy has a key ambition for a learning experience which is practice-oriented, ensuring UWE Bristol graduates are ready and able to engage and fulfil their potential through excellent employment opportunities.

In support of this ambition, all our programmes will align with the UWE Graduate Attributes Framework which identifies the outcomes for our graduate learners.

A key theme to support the practice-oriented ambition is for all of our programmes to have at least one work-integrated learning experience which is assessed at each level of the programme. To support staff in designing, and monitoring, curricula a toolkit has been developed.

Toolkit

A toolkit to support assessment design and strategy to ensure programme outcomes align with UWE Graduate Attributes. In designing work-integrated learning experience assessments1 the assessment strategy would normally include:

  • A range of assessments tasks
  • Collaboration similar to those working in the field
  • Problem tasks like those encountered in the field
  • Resources taken from real world cases
  • Simulations or role play or scenarios

Whilst developing assessments strategies for new or current programmes key questions2 to ask would include how well the assessment maps to:

  • 'Real world' problem or data - Issues and data which come from a 'real world' or industry setting may not come in coherent, standardised forms and may require interpretation to be of use. Thus using 'real-world' issues or data supports skills in analysis, interpretation and evaluation.

    A project-based assessment may be focussed towards a 'real-world' or industry relevant activity through engagement with employers in devising an assignment on in being involved with the project-based activity.
  • Collaborative working - Employment invariably requires collaboration and team work with a range of individuals. The use of collaborative working in an assessment improves student's ability to negotiate and discuss and develops their understanding of team roles and role flexibility.
  • Peer or self-review - In employment review may come in multiple formats eg informal peer review from colleagues, self-review and formal review from 'clients'. Thus effectively using different review processes helps students to develop critical thinking skills and encourages articulation and evidencing.
  • Varied audiences - Work activities undertaken within employment, in particular presentations, will be with different audiences eg peers, clients which will have different expectations. Thus having to think for a different audience in an assessment supports skills in; oral articulation, impact of message and new types of synthesis.

1 Whitelock et al (2012) International Journal of Assessment 2(1) Article 9
2 Informed by Jisc COLLABORATE project

Examples

Work-integrated learning activities could include:

  • Team-based project work with a 'real-world' problem or task
  • Research projects where key transferable skills are learning outcomes
  • Projects or assignments where industry has provided a 'problem' and continue to be engaged through video/online discussions.
  • Student interaction with practitioners on campus or online
  • Problem-based and issues-based approaches
  • Role plays, simulations and games that enable students to experience particular aspects of practice or develop particular practice attributes
  • High fidelity simulations, where appropriate, that situate students in a representation of a real practice situation
  • placements
  • Internships
  • Co-created programs
  • Work-based learning

What is a work-integrated learning experience?

An activity which enables an experiential work-relevant learning outcome and thus would inform programmatic outcomes towards the UWE Graduate Attributes. Some common examples would be a project-based activity, placement, internship, presentation. It would be expected that the activity would enable engagement by industry, where possible.

How can we design a work-integrated learning activity?

The toolkit has some key pointers for discussion with the module and programme team. The expectation is that at least one work-integrated learning activity, per level, is assessed within the programme taken by students.

How will we monitor the work-integrated learning experiences within the curricula?

The toolkit will support staff at the design phase for new programmes. For current programmes identification of work-integrated learning experiences and any changes will be overseen through annual monitoring and evaluation and approved through CAP.