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Curtin University
Work Integrated Learning (WIL)

What is WIL?

Work Integrated Learning (WIL) is an umbrella term used for a range of approaches and strategies that integrate theory with the practice of work within a purposefully designed curriculum; and through specifically designed co-curricular programs where students’ graduate capabilities are enhanced through work experience and community engagement opportunities (Patrick, Peach and Pocknee, 2008).

WIL is scaffolded across all Curtin courses through the constructive alignment of learning outcomes to Curtin’s Graduate Attributes ensuring a continuum of practice. Where possible, stakeholders such as students, industry partners, and community partners are involved in curriculum design and review. Authentic and real-world learning experiences are embedded in curricula to enhance employability outcomes for Curtin graduates and assure responsiveness to industry, society and global development which aligns to the University’s strategic vision and mission.

WIL activities are situated in the institutional setting, workplace and/or community. Inclusive education principles and guidelines ensure equitable access, participation and progression in WIL for diverse student cohorts. WIL student experiences value, acknowledge and apply cross-culturally appropriate practices. Reflection underpins generic skills considered highly desirable by employers and should be a component of the WIL experience enabling students to learn from exposure to practice. Given the diversity and range of WIL, courses adopt approaches and practices appropriate to the discipline and/or industry needs.

Patrick CJ, Peach D, and Pocknee C. (2008) The Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Report: A National Scoping Study, ALTC, QUT Publications, January.

Examples of WIL below.

A case study is a scenario that reflects real-world problems where students are tasked with applying theoretical knowledge in a practice-based context. A study tour is usually an opportunity for students to travel internationally and engage with work environment in a different cultural contexts.

A work based experience undertaken in the workplace setting as a part of curricular requirements.

Projects undertaken in partnership with not-for-profit or community organisations.

Fieldwork is any approved practical work, teaching, study or research activity, usually conducted outside the normal place of University business. Fieldwork may be an integral part of a course (curricular) or a co-curricular activity organised by the university.   Fieldwork includes but is not limited to clinical or practical work placements or activities; participation in laboratories; plant visits; industrial premises or site visits; practicums; study tours; field trips; work experience; service industry placements; isolated and remote fieldwork camps and/or excursions and international field trips/placements. Fieldwork does not include activities that have not been approved through the University, such as voluntary and leisure activities, paid or unpaid work experience, and site visits that are not part of an award course.       

An extended work-based experience of up to 12 months, completed under the guidance of experienced professionals. An internship allows for deep learning and the development of professional skills can provide realistic previews of real workplace cultures.

Research or problem based projects where students work in collaboration with an industry partner.

Involves extended periods of time with a host organisation. A practicum is designed to provide students with a supervised on-the-job practical application of theory to real life. It may be a mandatory component of a course and be governed by accreditation requirements.

Service learning is the integration of civic responsibilities into academic curriculum. It is undertaken specifically for the benefit of community or not-for-profit organisations where the student is engaged in serving while learning.

A learning environment which emulates the complexities of a real life situation or event. Examples include physiotherapy clinics, law courts, nursing wards, moot courts, architectural studios and engineering projects.

A work-based experience of variable duration where students are placed within a host organisation. The learning emphasis is on work and industry exploration and development of generic employability capabilities.

Fashion Design Student Showcase
SoDA Fashion Design student Lucy Aboagye (right) with her showpiece (left) at the Graduation Show © 2013. Photograph courtesy of Jonathan Kardian, Photography and Graphics Design student.