WIL Leadership Vignette 11:
What was learned from this:
Context of the event, experience or activity:
Students enrolling into the BNatSci Field Project units at the start of their final year of study bring with them vastly differing levels of experience in and understanding of professional practice. This ranges from those with little or no prior industry experience (a clear competitive disadvantage in their subsequent quest for graduate employment) to student trainees in paid employment in local or State government with good access to professional mentoring and networking opportunities. Students in the first group generally require considerably more support with finding a suitable client, and project although, in undertaking their Field Project, students already in the workplace may need to renegotiate their professional relationship with their selected client and work colleagues.
Description of the event, experience or activity:
Each Field Project student, regardless of his/her position on the above spectrum, must identify a suitable client and project and develop and maintain a productive working relationship with the client in completing their project over the course of the academic year. At the start of the year, students submit a brief project proposal together with their client details. Following approval of the project by the unit coordinator, the student takes individual responsibility for both the administrative (time management, field study Risk Assessment and Animal or Human Research Ethics applications as appropriate) and academic requirements of the Field Project units. At each stage of the project (proposal, literature review, piloting and finalising methods, data collection, data analysis and compiling a professional report for submission to the client), students receive academic input as well as formative feedback from both their supervisor and from two peer reviewers. Each student also reviews the work of two fellow- students and following completion of their report, submits a critical review of their own learning and professional development throughout the year.
The BNatSci Field Project explicitly links the academic curriculum with professional practice in the student’s areas of specialisation. Through successful completion of their Field Project, students are able to develop mastery of the BNatSci and broader UWS graduate attributes including:
Rosemary Nicholson is Academic Course Advisor for the Bachelor of Natural Science at the University of Western Sydney and supervises final year BNatSci students undertaking a Field Project for a professional or community client in their chosen area of specialisation (Animal Science, Environment and Health, Environmental Management, or Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security).