CEWIL Research Matters: January 2019

Article #1: Telling your story of work-integrated learning: A holistic approach to program evaluation (2018)

Author 

Rowe, A. D., Nay, C., Lloyd, K., Myton, N., & Kraushaar, N

Journal 

International Journal of Work-Integrated Learning, 19(3), 273-285

Source 

Work-Integrated Learning Research Portal

Purpose

To outline existing approaches to program evaluation in work-integrated learning (WIL) and present a more holistic approach.

Methodology

A case study of an Australian university that implemented a university-wide WIL initiative.

Key findings

WIL program evaluation should extend beyond the measurement of student outcomes to include processes and other areas of impact, as well as involve all stakeholders, including partners and community.

 

Practitioner's thoughts by

David Fenton (Entrepreneurship and Work Integrated Learning Program Coordinator, Management, University of Toronto Scarborough)

In what ways do these findings have the potential to change practice at your institution?

Throughout the paper, the importance of mutual benefit, the creation of relationships and engagement with external stakeholders are highlighted as points of emphasis for WIL. This is indeed an important focal point and one that suggests a need for both qualitative and quantitative evaluation for WIL program creation and process development. Given this, a consideration for an institutional approach would be to conduct surveys not only after a WIL experience has occurred, but also at the onset of curricular planning. This would facilitate the identification of the desired outcomes for all stakeholders up front, while assessing whether or not these were achieved in execution after the experience has occurred. It would also allow for the academic alignment of the industry and student expectations to ensure that the planned engagement reinforces academic outcomes versus quotas. Everyone would be able to clearly articulate what their expectations are up front, whether or not they are successful in achieving their goals, and opportunities for improvement would be identified for future iterations. This collaborative and multi-dimensional approach to program development and assessment would assist in solidifying WIL as an academic endeavour, as well as improve our understanding of best practices in how to create impactful programming.


Article #2: From employability to employment: A professional skills development course in a three-year bachelor program (2018)

Author

Bates, L., Hayes, H., Walker, S., & Marchesi, K

Journal

International Journal of Work-Integrated Learning, 19(4), 413-423

Source

Work-Integrated Learning Research Portal

Purpose

To determine the employment and continuing education outcomes of criminology graduates who participated in WIL and professional skills development courses during their undergraduate program.

Methodology

Data was analyzed from the Australian Graduate Survey for the years 2012 to 2015.

Key findings

Graduates who completed the WIL and professional skills courses were twice as likely to be employed in industry relevant positions or engaged in further study and were more likely to use a wider range of employment search techniques.

 

Practitioner’s thoughts by

Arjuna Thaskaran (Student Development Coordinator, Management Co-op, University of Toronto Scarborough)

What insights did you gain from reading this article that were useful to you?

As practitioners, we tend to concentrate on how successful students are in securing employment after graduation in order to assess the effectiveness of a co-op program. Therefore, it was interesting to read that the study results found a greater range of job-search strategies utilized in addition to greater employment rates by participants who undertook the professional development course as opposed to those who did not. It is also re-affirmation of the success of a classroom-based professional skills course, a format we offer at our institution, as against other methods (i.e. online).

Does this study raise questions for you that require further research/investigation?

I would have liked to have read about the breakdown of the course content/core competencies in the professional development courses in order to infer what content areas or aspects of a course have the most impact on employment secure rates. The study also makes note that the course was taught in their final year, which begs the question, would the results have been any different if the students took the course earlier in their studies.