Alix Redmond, University of Lethbridge
April 10, 2019
Work-integrated learning connects student learning to workplace settings
Canadian post-secondary institutions are undergoing a noticeable shift toward experiential learning. On March 19, the Government of Canada’s budget announced $798 million in funding for work-integrated learning, a form of experiential learning focused on career and skills development. Partnering with the Business / Higher Education Roundtable, the federal government has committed to creating tens of thousands of additional work-integrated learning opportunities to ensure work placement for any interested university student.
Work-integrated learning activities typically include co-operative education, internships, apprenticeships, mandatory professional practice, and clinical placements. Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada’s definition includes diverse activities that connect student learning to practice in workplace settings. Work-integrated learning experiences include engaged partnerships between academic institutions, host organizations and students. It can occur at course or program levels and seeks to develop learning outcomes related to employability, personal agency and lifelong learning.
Experiential learning at the University of Calgary and beyond
Following the 2019 Conference on Post-Secondary Learning and Teaching: Exploring Experiential Learning, Alberta scholars, practitioners, administrators, and community/industry partners are invited to participate in conversations about advancing work-integrated learning in Alberta.
"At the Taylor Institute, we are thrilled to be working with the University of Lethbridge, Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada and Mount Royal University to bring together colleagues from across Alberta to talk about how we advance work-integrated learning at our home institutions, and as a province,” says Erin Kaipainen, senior specialist in experiential learning at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.
Kaipainen sees these conversations as creating additional opportunities to enhance student engagement. "Across Canada, post-secondary institutions are emphasizing the benefits of experiential learning. At the same time, various levels of government are funding initiatives in future skills and work-integrated learning. Several of the activities that fall under the category of work-integrated learning, under the broader spectrum of experiential learning, are also high-impact practices for student engagement,” she explains.
“Co-operative education, internships, community-engaged learning and applied research projects — they all make learning real, relevant and meaningful for students.”
Students carry work-integrated learning experiences into their professional careers
Across disciplines, work-integrated learning has offered many benefits to post-secondary students, including improved transferable skills, enhanced professional identity and increased employment rates after graduation. Work-integrated learning also benefits academic institutions and industry and community partners. Students bring new and innovative ideas to organizations, and partners get a glimpse of up-and-coming talent and potential hires.
Stacey Gaudette-Sharp, a programs co-ordinator and instructor at the University of Lethbridge, says, “Work-integrated learning is interesting for so many reasons. But the heart of the thing lies in the fact that we are building a community of practice around our students. Work-integrated learning brings together the academy, the community (or industry), and the student in a way that is meaningful and beneficial for all partners.”
2019 University of Calgary Conference on Post-Secondary Learning and Teaching, April 29 - May 1
Learn more about work-integrated learning and other experiential learning programs at this year’s Conference on Post-Secondary Learning and Teaching, Exploring Experiential Learning.
Special pricing for University of Calgary students, staff and faculty. Registration deadline is April 17.