Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)
Background/context: Many work-integrated learning (WIL) experiences give students plenty of opportunities to integratework into the learning experience (ie, by offering students work placement opportunities while they are studying). Not so many, it seems, also offer students the opportunity to think about not only whatthey are learning and how that might transfer into work and other contexts, but also how they learn and why that matters.
The initiative/practice: Our university has recently created an internship course for BA students (for academic credit) that not only gives students 100 hours of work placement, but also expects them to attend seven course sessions that focus on learning. As with many other successful internship programmes, and in line with the research on WIL, the BA Internship uses metacognition and reflective practice as theoretical frameworks, and includes typical WIL assessments that ask students to reflect on what they have learned during their work placement. However, this programme also incorporates blog exercises, session preparation assignments, seminar presentations, and academic readings from a number of disciplines — such as education, psychology and management — that equip students with the theoretical and conceptual understanding to evaluate their experience as learners, and the vocabulary necessary for them to articulate that evaluation.
Evidence of effectiveness: The academic component of the course allows the students to project forward, translating their experience at university and in their internship placements into viable decisions about their future plans and employability — a particular challenge for those studying non-vocational degrees. Assignments that require the students to link reflection on the internship experience with the academic content of the course help to facilitate this process.
Method of evaluative data collection and analysis: This presentation will share survey and focus group data on the success of the course, and will feature some of the students’ own reflections and their description of the benefits of this hybrid internship/academic approach.
Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)
This presentation will address three of the conference sub-themes: Educating graduates to be responsive and adaptable professionals; assessing, evidencing and evaluating graduate capabilities; and, navigating uncertainty and complexity.
The hybrid academic/internship pedagogic approach of our BA Internship course encourages students to learn to be responsive and adaptable professionals, by fostering connections with work mentors who can help them prepare for and navigate changing workforce requirements. Students also understand how their graduate capabilities transfer beyond the educational context and into the world of work, by experiencing first-hand how these skills and capabilities can serve to fulfil a workplace project, and critically reflecting on how this is achieved. Finally, they learn to navigate uncertainty and complexity by developing the skills and dispositions required to access, filter and critically engage with new knowledge and new ways of knowing.