2.3 Strategies for Inclusive WIL

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Effective WIL curriculum involves strategies that build student, staff and partner capacity for inclusive WIL. The strategies and good ideas below have been contributed from across the sector and provide just some examples of the different ways in which the inclusive principles and guidelines of WIL can be put into practice. These ideas, along with the stories from the field, are intended to stimulate thinking about what inclusive WIL can look like and the ways in which it can be enacted. 

Build Curriculum


WIL curriculum should be delivered to develop qualities and capabilities such as interpersonal and reflective skills, resilience, confidence and persistence. Good ideas and strategies include:

  1. gather feedback from students and partners
    2. review and evaluate WIL programs and/or curriculum
    3. engage in peer review and benchmarking
    4. work with advisory committees
    5. seek external expert advice
    6. set clear educational expectations – use Learning Plans
    7. scaffold learning
    8. provide feedback
    9. employ a range of assessment strategies
    10. consider alternative models to placement (including virtual WIL)
    11. explore online resources that provide industry engagement opportunities for students
    12. encourage staff and students to network and engage with industry and community through rewarding and recognising initiatives
    13. allocate resources to facilitate engagement with partners
    14. be flexible with timing and arrangements for placements


Stories from the field…

1. Information Systems and Information Technology Project – Macquarie University

This capstone unit organises students into teams to complete an industry project. This approach has been used as a way to ensure all students have the opportunity to successfully participate in this compulsory program. Each team negotiates how the project will be completed, allowing individual needs and preferences to be accommodated. The unit gathers feedback from students and partners as part of its regular review process. Click here for full story.

2. Legal Clinic – QUT

The Legal Clinic program makes use of the less resource intensive community lawyering clinic model as a way to provide WIL opportunities to more students. Students undertake legal, research and community education tasks covering a range of community and social justice issues, which helps students from diverse backgrounds find an issue/project which appeals to them. Accessibility is further enhanced as students are able to negotiate the hours of their community lawyering experience, thereby helping them balance their WIL and other commitments. Click here for full story.

3. Community Internship Course – Griffith (also builds student capacity)

This community service internship program has been purposely designed with minimal entrance requirements, thereby making it available to the widest possible number of students. Accessibility is further enhanced as students may use their existing volunteering jobs for placements or select one organised by the university. Financial support is made available to students, along with pastoral care and advice before and during the placement. Click here for full story.    Click here to view full video story.

4. Virtual Legal Placements (VLP) – Queensland University of Technology (also builds partner capacity)

The VLP is an on-line model of WIL which provides the university with a cost effective way to offer large numbers of students access to WIL. The VLP involves employers from across the spectrum of law firms, government, industry, and community organisations, which helps meet the diverse needs and interests of students. VLP also supports the flexibility required by external and part time students. This model has been developed in close collaboration with industry partners, who also have on-line access to a suite of resources to support their role in VLP. See – http://acen.edu.au/virtual-placement-project-vpp/

5. Supply Chain Management students – Curtin University

This WIL unit has been purposively designed to occur in the second year of a business degree so that students can experience an authentic supply chain management placement early on in their course, providing a real work reference point to build on classroom learning and potential future WIL experiences. Students work with a real client on a discrete supply chain management project. Students enjoy the work experience, and this was enhanced because it was a) early in their course, and b) limited to an assignment, which allowed them to feel less pressured by the placement. Click here for full story. 

Build staff capacity


Institutional capacity for inclusive WIL relies heavily on the ability of university staff to meet the diverse needs of students. Good ideas and strategies include:

  1. 1. cultural awareness training
    2. risk management training
    3. encourage and support scholarship of WIL (including grant , conference and publication opportunities)
    4. reward and recognition of effective practice
    5. workload recognition
    6. build communities of practice
    7. showcase personal stories and vignettes

Stories from the field…

6. WIL Community of Practice – RMIT

The purpose of the WIL CoP at RMIT is to provide staff involved with WIL an opportunity to share and learn from one another. The WIL CoP focuses on a range of both operational and learning and teaching WIL issues to help build the professional capacity of staff, particularly in relation to matters which are challenging or difficult. The group also helps those who may be “working alone” to grow a network they can call on for support and advice. Click here for full story.

7. Research Workshops – Macquarie University

Macquarie University’s Pedagogy Research Workshops have been running since 2013. The workshop series aims to bring together people who are interested in learning and teaching research related to PACE (a form of work-integrated learning). Workshops have a key theme and often involve subject matter experts from across the University. Every session has a practical component where participants have an opportunity to undertake hands-on activities, usually in the form of group work. Time for questions and answers is also built into the workshop. Click here for full story.

8. Go Global – Curtin University

Go Global is a nationally awarded international and inter-professional service learning program. The cross cultural clinical placements create an opportunity to learn through a country orientation process, an in country placement experience and a debrief centred around service through partnership to build health care capacity in other countries. Go Global builds staff capacity through training and development of staff prior to departure. A focus on developing the ability to supervise and facilitate inter-professional student teams at the host site ensures an excellent experience for the students, and provides a different supervisory experience for staff who may have only supervised discipline specific students in the past. Click here for full story.

9. Journalism Placements – Griffith University

Through this unit students gain hands-on journalism experience via their on-campus placements. The provision of the placements on-campus often means it can be easier for time poor students to balance work, study and their WIL commitments. Click here to view full video story.



Build student capacity


Successful WIL experiences rely on providing students with timely and appropriate information about WIL requirements and making reasonable adjustments to meet individual needs. Good ideas and strategies include providing:

  1. clear learning outcomes and support
    2. career advice including training in preparing CV’s and job applications
    3. scholarships and financial support
    4. clear procedures for disclosure of issues that may impact on learning
    5. flexible models of WIL
    6. access to counselling and support
    7. institutional awards
    8. personal stories and vignettes


Stories from the field…


10. Media Public Relations – Macquarie University

This unit provides industry placements which occur mostly on-campus. This approach provides students some flexibility in terms of where, when and how their project is completed. Students are encouraged to disclose any specific needs early on so the program convenor can accommodate these when project teams are formed and projects allocated. Additional advice and support is provided in areas such as writing, critical thinking and time management. Click here for full story.

11. Advertising, Marketing and Public Relation – Queensland University of Technology

Students are responsible for selecting and securing their own industry internship in this program. Staff help students achieve this through the provision of industry contacts, reviewing applications and support through the application process. An interview workshop is also run which provides students with the opportunity to practice interview skills and techniques and gain feedback from industry professionals, teaching staff and peers. See http://acen.edu.au/757-2/

12. Professional and Community Engagement in Science – Macquarie University (also builds curriculum)

This unit has been designed to provide science students who do not have WIL as a compulsory element of their degree program an opportunity to engage in WIL. Student choice and flexibility underpin the design of the unit to ensure student needs and preferences can be accommodated, for example: students can organise their own activity or faculty staff can help locate one; activities can be group-based or individual; activities can occur locally, regionally or internationally as well as on or off campus. Click here for full story.

13. Learning Circles of Change – Griffith (also build partner capacity)

Circles of Change Revisited (COCR) is a method used to engage professionals from a variety of disciplines in critical reflection and conversation. The process consists of four steps and involves groups of students and professionals, in deconstructing, confronting, theorising and thinking otherwise about a phenomena or issue within the field of practice. The COCR can be described as intense guided reflective conversation. The over-riding approach is “democracy in action”, where the learning circles encourage all views to be expressed and explored, irrespective of whether you are a student, professional or university staff. The process of discussion and reflection generates new knowledge for the student and the experience empowers them to act on the basis of this new knowledge. Click here for full story.

14. WIL in a Master of Physiotherapy program – Griffith University

This Masters level program acknowledges that some students may take extra time to reach an acceptable level of competent practice. If a student fails to reach this level, they will not be permitted to continue in the program until they can demonstrate safe, competent performance in a supplementary placement. Where students may have failed a placement, significant guidance and support is provided around that individual to identify their weaknesses and to assist the student succeed. Click here for full story.

15. Wine-making WIL opportunities in Margaret River – Curtin University

This program is designed for international students undertaking a chemical engineering degree. For a variety of reasons placements can be challenging to source for international students. Working in collaboration with the Centre for Wine Excellence, this program secures WIL opportunities for international students in Margaret River area. Students identified their own project topics, centred on wine production in Australia, which allowed each student to incorporate their own interests and experience into their project. Group sessions prior to the placement helped prepare students for the experience. This program allows students to learn about both their discipline and local workplace culture. Click here for full story. 

Build partner capacity


Key to any successful WIL program is the university and partner mutually beneficial relationship. Adopting a flexible, creative and innovative mindset to arrangements and models is the best approach. Good ideas and strategies include:

1. models of WIL that benefit host organisations and students
2. policies, processes and protocols that account for the risks associated with WIL but allow for diversity in approaches
3. consider industry-based projects where groups of students work together
4. consider diverse needs and capabilities when matching student and host
5. provide advice and resources to support student learning
6. provide feedback on performance
7. provide hosts with information and training opportunities in:

a. roles and responsibilities in supervision, teaching and assessment in workplace settings
b. adapting tasks for students with diverse learning needs
c. relevant policies and guidelines (university, government and industry) and accreditation frameworks that govern student learning
d. communication for reporting back to the university during and after WIL
contributing to subsequent evaluations of the WIL program to strengthen support procedures and processes.
e. contributing to subsequent evaluations of the WIL program to strengthen support procedures and processes.

Story from the field…

16. Work-integrated learning in Health – QUT

Queensland University of Technology has multiple health programs which see hundreds of students involved in clinical placements at any given time. A special feature of QUT’s WIL in Health is the Workplace into the Uni and Uni into the Workplace initiative. This initiative utilizes a coherent set of web-based programs that assist both students and workplace supervisors. These programs are just one part of the WIL website which provides 24/7 access for students and workplace supervisors to a variety of purpose-built, online programs that are designed both to support students learning in the clinical setting and to maintain a connectedness between their on-campus and off-campus experiences. The basic objectives of the WIL site are to assist students and workplace supervisors with understanding the requirements of students learning in the workplace and to promote the achievement of quality learning outcomes within the practice environment. Regardless of where their placement is located students and their workplace supervisors are able to access up-to-the-minute information for students and supervisors. See http://acen.edu.au/951-2/