Enhanced community engagement and employability through the Community Internship

Enhanced community engagement and employability through the Community Internship

The Community Internship course is a 10CP elective, WIL shell service-learning course, operating from Learning Futures.

Carol Joy Patrick

Carol Joy Patrick, Griffith University,
cj.patrick@griffith.edu.au

The Community Internship course is a 10CP elective, WIL shell service-learning course, operating from Learning Futures. Any student can enrol if they have successfully completed eight courses/subjects.

Students undertake 50-hour internship at not-for-profit organisations and are supported by non-discipline specific Academic Advisors who deliver lectures, workshops and offer pastoral support. This course aims to support students gain a deeper understanding of their personal values and professional growth while enhancing their employability.

Working with disadvantaged and marginalised communities, perceptions of human rights, citizenship and equality are challenged and students are often transformed by the experience, leading to increased civic responsibility.

More at the Community Internship website

Full details of 'Enhanced community engagement and employability through the Community Internship'

Disciplines included in the WIL activity

All disciplines are eligible

Model of WIL activity

Industry/community based placement

Brief description of WIL activity

The Community Internship course is a 10CP elective, WIL shell service-learning course, operating from Learning Futures. Any student can enrol if they have successfully completed eight courses/subjects. Students undertake 50-hour internship at not-for-profit organisations and are supported by non-discipline specific Academic Advisors who deliver lectures, workshops and offer pastoral support. This course aims to support students gain a deeper understanding of their personal values and professional growth while enhancing their employability. Working with disadvantaged and marginalised communities, perceptions of human rights, citizenship and equality are challenged and students are often transformed by the experience, leading to increased civic responsibility.

Length of time the WIL activity has been/was in operation

The Community Internship course has been in operation since January 2012 (Semester 1) and is being delivered for the 18th time in Trimester 1, 2018.

Who benefits from the WIL activity (include all relevant stakeholders)?

The course provides direct benefits to three parties:

  • Students participate in valuable work experience that develops personal and professional skills contributing to their employability and enhancing their social responsibility.
  • Community organisations have access to students offering new perspectives and demonstrating up-to-date academic capabilities. Organisations also receive important support reducing high work pressure.
  • Griffith University engages and supports communities which create opportunities for collaboration and idea sharing between the involved parties. Furthermore, student engagement is facilitated to help support community needs.

The wider community benefits through the strengthening of students’ sense of civic engagement and efficacy, and raised awareness of community needs.

How does the WIL activity demonstrate good practice and/or innovation?

The Community Internship is a distinctive, transformative learning experience combining the aims of enhancing students’ employability, and their awareness as socially responsible citizens. Embedded within a robust WIL framework, it provides students with coherent learning experiences as interns in not-for-profit organisations that deal with a range of social issues such as poverty, disability, and environmental protection. Students are often transformed by this experience as evidenced by research conducted on the Final Reports of one cohort (n=29) (2015/16) where 76% of students included a statement emphasising how the internship changed them in some way (e.g. attitudes, professional direction, skill development and/or understanding of the world and their role within it). Partner data (2017) highlights the mutual benefit: “Everything I have experienced is perfect and great and how lucky are we to meet the students and have the students touching the residents’ lives and the residents touching the students’ lives, it works both ways.”

How adaptable is the WIL activity to other disciplines, sectors, teaching practices etc?

The Community Internship is designed to suit a broad range of disciplines, as it is offered as a free-choice elective across the University; it caters for all disciplines. In any given trimester over 250 unique internships, all addressing areas of community need, are available in up to 175 community organisations, catering for a range of discipline areas for students with wide interests and capabilities. While students do not need to select internships with direct application to their discipline studies, the course design requires them to identify the transferable skills they develop which will support their professional enactment of their discipline studies.

How sustainable is the WIL activity beyond its immediate implementation?

Since 2012 the course has supported over 2300 students while providing over 120,000 hours of volunteering to almost 400 community organisations. The heart of this course are the learning processes which include supportive guidance, that create a culture of safety enabling secure guided self-exploration to achieve personal transformations that positively impact community. The design relies on ongoing evaluation embedded within the course, purposeful feedback procedures as well as:

  • Clearly defined operational policies and procedures
  • Set academic staff-student ratios to ensure efficiency and sufficient support
  • Accessibility to all students
  • An administration team to manage initial placements and marketing to students.

How is the success of the WIL activity evaluated?

The Community Internship course is regularly evaluated. Each instance of feedback is designed or utilised to determine the program’s success achieving the goals of each stakeholder. The evaluation tools include:

  • an external advisory group,
  • stakeholder surveys,
  • stakeholder interviews,
  • stakeholder focus groups and;
  • bench-marking through consultation with national and international experts.

Evaluation mechanisms have also been embedded into the course design to ensure continual feedback and improvement. In recognition of its success the course has received an AAUT Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning (2016) and an AAUT Award for Programs that Enhance Learning (2017).

What are the wider impacts of the WL activity beyond completion?

As students are not necessarily final year the Internship aims to facilitate a depth of personal and professional learning providing wider impacts beyond completion, like strengthening employability and citizenship. Statistics, based on a 2013 study, indicated 60% of students continue to volunteer. Partners’ also reported positive improvements in students’ functioning across key capabilities (2015): personal confidence (greater self-confidence 80%); interpersonal and group skills (improved team work 73%, improved communication skills 81%); cognitive (judgment and decision making capacity 71%, ability to use academic knowledge in professional environment 66%); Nearly 60% of either “some” or “most” students continue to volunteer in their organisation, beyond the internship. Strengthened employability is recognised by both students and community partners, with 81% of the latter indicating they would be willing to employ their interns.

How does the WIL activity approach the preparation, implementation and reflection phases of WIL?

1) Preparation

Students are intentionally positioned as responsible partners in their learning. They are supported to self-assess suitability for positions according to

  • challenge level,
  • autonomy
  • communication skills.

This is facilitated through; online support, information sessions and one-on-one consultations.

2) Implementation

Students undertake 50-hour internship at a community organisation.

3) Reflection:

Students are supported with just-in-time scaffolds: structured (Lectures and Workshops), self-directed (Modules), and reflective practice (Reflective Writing) tasks. Students engage with stage-appropriate integrative theoretical frameworks, with the aim of enhancing their capacity for critical reflection (of both self and society), and thus better placed to transform their experience into learning.

What are the learning outcomes of the WIL activity and how do they link to graduate attributes?

The learning objectives are:

  1.  Demonstrate understanding of social, cultural or environmental challenges addressed by the internship organisation
  2.  Critically appraise the contributions made by the student in the role to the work of the internship organisation
  3.  Critically appraise the personal and professional skills and values in the context of the role in the internship organisation.

In their academic assessments, students self assess how they are meeting the learning objectives and how they link to the Griffith Graduate Attributes. This process has been embedded as structured reflection within the course design to support student awareness and understanding of the course outcomes.

What are the plans for the WIL activity in the future?

The future plans for the Community Internship focus on amplifying its transformational impact on the students and the extended community. Steps towards this goal are already taking place with the main focus on accessibility of the course. The course has already moved from being a free-choice elective to become a core course, listed or employability elective in 70 different degree programs. The strategy is to encourage other degree programs to do the same. Additionally, the current development of a Global Internship course will increase the reach and impact of this course to international communities.

Some of our education students find mentoring small children very rewarding

Some of our education students find mentoring small children very rewarding

Some of our students prefer to do an overseas internship to learn about other cultures

Some of our students prefer to do an overseas internship to learn about other cultures

University of Canberra and PwC Industry Based Learning Program (IBL)

University of Canberra and PwC Industry Based Learning Program (IBL)

Industry Based Learning (IBL) program provides an opportunity for students to be immersed in the PwC workplace for a full semester.

University of Canberra logo

Contact: Gabrielle Shield, University of Canberra, gabrielle.shield@canberra.edu.au

The Industry Based Learning (IBL) program provides an opportunity for students to be immersed in the PwC workplace for a full semester, thereby providing an authentic workplace experience. The program is a 12 credit point full time paid internship, where PwC has matched the student training and projects to the learning outcomes of the academic internship unit.

Students are coached and developed by senior PwC staff while working on real client projects. They receive valuable training, networking and feedback throughout the program. The IBL program is offered to students studying technology or business-related degrees. Being paid to participate helps to ensure the program is more accessible and inclusive to students.

Full details of 'University of Canberra (UC) and PwC Industry Based Learning Program (IBL)'

Disciplines included in the WIL activity

STEM and Business

Model of WIL activity

Industry/community based placement

Brief description of WIL activity

The Industry Based Learning (IBL) program provides an opportunity for students to be immersed in the PwC workplace for a full semester, thereby providing an authentic workplace experience. The program is a 12 credit point full time paid internship, where PwC has matched the student training and projects to the learning outcomes of the academic internship unit. Students are coached and developed by senior PwC staff while working on real client projects. They receive valuable training, networking and feedback throughout the program. The IBL program is offered to students studying technology or business-related degrees. Being paid to participate helps to ensure the program is more accessible and inclusive to students.

Length of time the WIL activity has been/was in operation

One year – Semester 2, 2017 and Semester 1, 2018 (completed).

Currently recruiting for students to complete the program in Semester 2, 2018 and Semester 1, 2019.

Who benefits from the WIL activity?

UC is focused on producing industry-ready graduates and we know that when students engage with industry throughout their studies, everyone benefits. Students benefit from being immersed in a workplace with the opportunity to apply theories and concepts from the classroom, as well as developing essential employability skills, networks and a deeper understanding of their professions. The program sets students up for potential graduate roles and equips them with the skills and experience to market themselves to other employers. PwC benefit from the students’ fresh approach and innovation, plus the opportunity to build relationships with UC and identify potential graduate talent. Placement opportunities are negotiated in consultation with all stakeholders to help ensure mutually beneficial outcomes.

How does the WIL activity demonstrate good practice and/or innovation?

The IBL program was developed following discussions between UC and PwC Canberra about how to increase the number of UC students engaging with PwC, particularly from technology focused degrees. Following discussions with faculty about the range of WIL options available in curriculum, PwC developed the IBL program specifically to match the WIL requirement. For example, the ‘learning agreement’ was developed through consultation with faculty and contains a customised competency matrix, which overlays the PwC skills framework with the learning outcomes of the internship unit. This document is used by PwC coaches and supervisors for induction, goal setting and ongoing feedback. The learning agreement also contributes to final assessment for the unit.  Ultimately, the IBL program promotes shared outcomes and responsibility from the university and PwC; paving the way for future collaboration and proving that a shared interest in the delivery of education to students can be achieved.

How adaptable is the WIL activity to other disciplines, sectors, teaching practices etc?

This program is completely adaptable to other disciplines if there are relevant internship units to facilitate a whole semester program. PwC’s business areas lend themselves to the current disciplines of Technology and Business/Commerce but could grow depending on business needs.  The first year of this program was open to IT students, with the 2018 program opening to Business, Commerce and IT related degrees. The university already works with several other technology industry partners on a similar model of placement, under a scholarship arrangement. We welcome other industry partners interested in developing a similar placement model.

How sustainable is the WIL activity beyond its immediate implementation?

This is a sustainable activity, as it runs through the normal university systems and processes. UC’s degrees have a common professional practice element, allowing integration of future programs such as the PwC IBL program to be implemented easily.

How is the success of the WIL activity evaluated?

Each semester, the program is evaluated by:

  • Students through their regular unit feedback structures.
  • The outcomes of the students completing the program. To date 75% of the pilot students receiving graduate offers (PwC or other).
  • PwC provide individual student evaluation (linked to curricula)
  • Meetings with Careers UC to evaluate and review the program for further improvement. Eg: refined application processes, communication with students, assessment submission requirements and enhancement of employability skills.
  • The expansion of this program into a third PwC business line within 12 months is evidence of success. Since this program has been implemented, a range of similar paid experiential learning programs have been developed at the university (Government, private sector employers).

What are the wider impacts of the WL activity beyond completion?

For students – this type of work experience has a high value in the employment market and students who do not take up a role with PwC can leverage the experience to apply for a range of graduate jobs.

For PwC – creating a positive and prominent profile with both students and faculty. Building a talent pipeline in key disciplines and potential to expand into other faculties. Building relationships with faculty and contributing to curriculum review and related activities.

For UC – developing a WIL program which showcases the university’s ability to be agile and responsive to employers and students. PwC attend, and have keynoted, the end of semester unit showcase to share in the celebration of student learning and to engage with the faculty. This model of engagement builds trust, opens communication channels and generates more opportunities for further engagement, include research and WIL.

How does the WIL activity approach the preparation, implementation and reflection phases of WIL?

Students are prepared both at UC and PwC. Students meet with academic supervisors, undertake preparation modules, including Pre-Place and undertake a thorough one-week face to face induction with PwC. The induction includes E-Learning sessions, buddy and coach introductory sessions, PwC systems training, networking, group activities and reflection. Implementation is carried out in collaboration with PwC, the faculty and Careers UC. Careers UC meets with students to assist with applications and process.  Once successful, they ensure students are aware of the University requirements and assist in career planning. Reflection is embedded into assessment criteria, including reports and presentation requirements. Students also have the benefit of coaches at PwC, which is formalised through the learning framework, where there are guidelines for feedback, reflection and achieving personal development goals throughout the program.

What are the learning outcomes of the WIL activity and how do they link to graduate attributes?

The learning outcomes of the program have been developed in consultation with PwC to align with university learning outcomes, PwC core consulting skills and industry technical skills. Several specific learning outcomes are set by UC, including students demonstrating the ability to communicate, professionally engage, critically reflect and develop new skills in the workplace. The learning outcomes overlap the university’s graduate attributes, which are categorised as graduating students who are professional, global citizens and lifelong learners. UC’s graduate attributes are strongly linked to employability skills and the success of the first program highlighted the connection to these skills. Work Experience, employability skills, networking, communication, real world application and putting their theory into practice was all recognised by the students (see video), and something that will enable them to be successful into the future.

What are the plans for the WIL activity in the future?

The PwC IBL program is an ongoing WIL program available for UC students in the Business faculty and Scitech faculty. The aim is to increase the number of students undertaking the program over the coming semesters and raising students’ awareness of such opportunities early on in their degree. Opportunities are presenting themselves to embed similar programs into other disciplines and industries, and is proving useful to businesses to attract talent outside of traditional graduate recruitment.  Additional 6/12cpt programs are underway with other organisations, cementing this type of structure at UC as a permanent feature of our degrees.

Prof Lawrence Pratchett, Pro Vice-Chancellor/Associate Vice-President (Students, Partnerships and International) and Iain McGuire, Partner, PwC with University of Canberra IBL students, Manuel, Lauren, Emily and Madison.

Prof Lawrence Pratchett, Pro Vice-Chancellor/Associate Vice-President (Students, Partnerships and International) and Iain McGuire, Partner, PwC with University of Canberra IBL students, Manuel, Lauren, Emily and Madison.

IBL students are fully immersed into the PwC workplace, developing essential employability skills, networks and a deeper understanding of their profession.

IBL students are fully immersed into the PwC workplace, developing essential employability skills, networks and a deeper understanding of their profession.

Sustainable, reciprocal and interdisciplinary projects in Sabah

Sustainable, reciprocal and interdisciplinary projects in Sabah

Developing sustainable, reciprocal and interdisciplinary projects in Sabah (Malaysia) with PACOS Trust.

Dr Rebecca Bilous

Dr Rebecca Bilous, Macquarie University
rebecca.bilous@mq.edu.au

Over the past nine years undergraduate students at Macquarie University have been working on interdisciplinary projects with PACOS, an indigenous rights organization in Sabah Malaysia. Law, geography and social science research students come together in small groups to work on projects identified by PACOS, going both to Sabah (over the teaching breaks) or working from Macquarie University in an online mode (during semester). The relationship is one of reciprocity and the benefits to students, PACOS and the university have been clearly documented (Hammersley, 2015).

Full reference: Hammersley, L.A. (2015). “It’s about dignity not dependency”: Reciprocal relationships in undergraduate community-based service-learning. (Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation) Macqurie University.

Full author list: Rebecca Bilous, Laura Hammersley, Thanda Bennet, Sandie Suchet-Pearson, Jacqueline Mackaway, Debra Ronan.

All pics by Laura Hammersley.

Full details of 'Developing sustainable, reciprocal and interdisciplinary projects in Sabah (Malaysia) with PACOS Trust'

Disciplines included in the WIL activity

Law, Geography and Sociology

Model of WIL activity

Industry/community based placement, Industry/community based projects, Research activities, Site visits

Brief description of WIL activity

Over the past nine years undergraduate students at Macquarie University have been working on interdisciplinary projects with PACOS, an indigenous rights organization in Sabah Malaysia. Law, geography and social science research students come together in small groups to work on projects identified by PACOS, going both to Sabah (over the teaching breaks) or working from Macquarie University in an online mode (during semester). The relationship is one of reciprocity and the benefits to students, PACOS and the university have been clearly documented (Hammersley, 2015).

Full reference: Hammersley, L.A. (2015). “It’s about dignity not dependency”: Reciprocal relationships in undergraduate community-based service-learning. (Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation) Macqurie University.

Length of time the WIL activity has been/was in operation

9 years

Who benefits from the WIL activity (include all relevant stakeholders)?

Students, partners and staff have benefited through their engagement in this activity. Students have remarked on the positive impact the experience has had on both personal and professional development, enabling them to put academic knowledge into practice by working on genuine projects. For PACOS Trust and the communities they serve, tangible benefits include research, report writing and the documentation of Indigenous knowledges; intangible benefits include staff development in cross-cultural communication, increased staff motivation and advocacy work. Macquarie staff have received opportunities to learn from PACOS’ approach to community development, co-create pre-departure curriculum and undertake research. Alumni are involved in the ongoing preparation of students, attending pre-departure workshops and contributing to a series of videos that provide student-to-student advice.

How does the WIL activity demonstrate good practice and/or innovation?

Vital to the success is the work done with PACOS over many years, to ensure that the activities and relationships are respectful, caring, mutually beneficial and adhere to best practice community development principles. To do this well takes time. Professional and academic staff (from law, geography and social sciences) work together to understand the organisation’s needs over the short and long-term, and identify those projects that students might meaningfully contribute and learn from. Some of these projects will span many years, with different student groups contributing in different ways. In this way we are able to ensure that all stakeholders continually benefit from the relationship, ensuring it’s sustainability over the long term.

How adaptable is the WIL activity to other disciplines, sectors, teaching practices etc?

A three-year partnership plan has been developed which enables Macquarie staff to understand PACOS’ priorities and recruit the right students for each project. Projects have included the documentation of Indigenous knowledges, evaluating violations of Native Customary Rights, developing training initiatives and helping manage resources. The approach developed with PACOS is used with a number of international community development organisations who regularly host Macquarie students across a range of countries and with students from a wide range of disciplines.

How sustainable is the WIL activity beyond its immediate implementation?

Macquarie has been partnering with PACOS since 2009 and will continue to do so, demonstrating its sustainability despite staff turnover in both organizations. It is clear that the relationship is mutually beneficial to students, staff, the partner organization and the communities they serve. PACOS staff have attended three Macquarie networking symposiums, in Bangkok, Sydney and Sabah. In Sabah, PACOS were hosts of an OLT-funded symposium (further details in Bilous et al. 2018) In addition, a younger PACOS staff member was given the opportunity to undertake an internship at Macquarie. The three-year partnership plan responds directly to PACOS’ organisational goals. This ‘living’ document is constantly reviewed, enabling Macquarie staff to ensure that student activities are impactful and sustainable. Routine survey data collected from students on their return to Australia and regular meetings with academic staff also ensures students’ personal and professional development needs are met.

Full reference: Bilous, R., Hammersley, L., Lloyd, K., Rawlings-Sanaei, F., Downey, G., Amigo, M., Gilchrist, S. and Baker, M. (2018) ‘All of us together in a blurred space’: Principles for co-creating curriculum with international partners, International Journal for Academic Development, 23:3, pp. 165-178.

How is the success of the WIL activity evaluated?

At the end of each intake, students complete a post-activity survey, where they provide feedback on the activity including the impact on their professional and personal development. Students also attend a re-entry workshop where they are given the opportunity to informally reflect on their experiences with staff. While in-country, students complete a weekly report that provides progress updates and highlights any issues that might have arisen. At the end of each intake staff work with PACOS to assess the success of the activity, updating the 3-year plan. Informal conversations with unit convenors occur throughout the year.

What are the wider impacts of the WL activity beyond completion?

Tangible outputs produced by students continue to positively impact PACOS. For example, a geography mapping project, originally produced by students for a land rights court case (successfully) is still being used in hostile negotiations with private companies illegally producing palm oil, and the communities PACOS work with are empowered to advocate for themselves using the posters, videos and reports produced by students. Students report an ongoing engagement with Indigenous rights on their return to Australia, clarifying their career goals, giving them experience that is beneficial to their future personal and professional development, and helping them to secure meaningful employment. One successful alumni, for example, is currently working in the Children’s Court of NSW as a research assistant.

How does the WIL activity approach the preparation, implementation and reflection phases of WIL?

All students on this WIL activity receive comprehensive pre-departure preparation for the placement. This pre-departure curriculum was co-created with PACOS staff and covers key areas including community development, reciprocity, cross-cultural communication, child protection, personal wellbeing and team building (for further detail see www.classroomofmanycultures.net). This is in addition to the discipline-specific support provided by academic staff in law, geography and social science research. Each of these academic units teaches reflective practice, scaffolding students before, during and after the activity. In each case, students are required to reflect on their personal and professional development as part of the units’ formal assessment. During the activity itself, students are supported by an in-country team leader.

What are the learning outcomes of the WIL activity and how do they link to graduate attributes?

The outcomes of this WIL activity are as follows:

  • Actively contribute to discipline specific work projects for a partner organization
  • Engage in key social, business and ethical challenges
  • Contribute to more just, inclusive and sustainable global societies
  • Experience life and work in a different country and culture
  • Enhance your resume and stand out to future employers
  • Explore future career options

What are the plans for the WIL activity in the future?

In July 2018, a group of law students are travelling to Sabah in order to document a successful legal case that has just been won. Students will interview the lawyer who worked on the case over 15 years and talk to the community. Later, in October 2018 human geography and social science students will work with PACOS to document Indigenous resource use and knowledge systems.

Laura Hammersley working with PACOS Trust for her PhD dissertation, ‘It’s about dignity not dependency: Reciprocal relationships in undergraduate community-based service-learning’ (2015)

Representatives from Macquarie University and from 9 other international community development organisations at a ‘Co-creating Curriculum’ workshop, hosted by PACOS Trust

Representatives from Macquarie University and from 9 other international community development organisations at a ‘Co-creating Curriculum’ workshop, hosted by PACOS Trust

Macquarie University students learning about and recording Indigenous knowledges

Macquarie University students learning about and recording Indigenous knowledges

Bringing theory to life: Using WIL to motivate commitment and master complexity

Bringing theory to life: Using WIL to motivate commitment and master complexity

Students tackle a difficult pricing subject where the concurrent learning and application of theory boosts work readiness.
UTS Pricing student group visits their client contact, Dr Sonya Pearce from Tranby National Indigenous Adult Education and Training, in Glebe NSW.

Lisa Andersen, Manager, Shopfront Community Program lisa.andersen@uts.edu.au
John Burke, UTS Pricing Coordinator & Lecturer, Marketing Discipline Group, Business School, john.burke@uts.edu.au University of Technology, Sydney

Pricing and Revenue Management, a postgraduate marketing subject based on service-learning pedagogy, introduced WIL with real clients five years ago. As a collaboration between UTS Business School and Shopfront, a university-wide community engagement program, over a 12-week semester students are taught all aspects of pricing theory while simultaneously working in teams undertaking market research and developing pricing strategies for under-resourced community organisations.

Since 2014, all 17 community clients have benefited from implementing pricing recommendations and 475 students have learned and applied pricing theory ‘live’, while also learning critical professional skills – client management, communications, problem-solving and teamwork.

Full details of 'Bringing theory to life: Using WIL to motivate commitment and master complexity'

Disciplines included in the WIL activity

Business

Model of WIL activity

Industry/community-based projects; research activities; site visits; consultancy services; tutorial based teams.

Brief description of WIL activity

Pricing and Revenue Management, a postgraduate marketing subject based on service-learning pedagogy, introduced WIL with real clients five years ago. As a collaboration between UTS Business School and Shopfront, a university-wide community engagement program, over a 12-week semester students are taught all aspects of pricing theory while simultaneously working in teams undertaking market research and developing pricing strategies for under-resourced community organisations. Since 2014, all 17 community clients have benefited from implementing pricing recommendations and 475 students have learned and applied pricing theory ‘live’, while also learning critical professional skills – client management, communications, problem-solving and teamwork.

Length of time the WIL activity has been/was in operation

Five years

Who benefits from the WIL activity?

Community organisations – usually unable to resource pricing services – receive quality advice supporting their long-term sustainability and the equitable pricing of their services for the communities they serve. By applying theories learned in class to a real-world issue, students develop a deeper understanding of how to approach pricing and are better prepared to apply pricing methods to any product type or organisation. As well, developing additional critical ‘soft’ professional skills (see above) and a sense of the social responsibility of their professional practice. The university fulfils its public benefit role, while faculty gain experience working with external partners and strengthen their capabilities in WIL coursework.

How does the WIL activity demonstrate good practice and/or innovation?

Here WIL brings to life complex theory. While much WIL activity is around applying existing disciplinary knowledge, this subject is innovative because, over 12 weeks, it introduces and teaches new pricing theory, financial mathematics and analytics while concurrently embedding that theory through a real project and connecting ‘live’ implementation issues to the classroom. Learning is scaffolded over the semester, delivered, tested, evaluated and applied at a pace that does not overwhelm students who are new to this disciplinary field. It also demonstrates ethical practice as, not only do the ‘usable’ outcomes have public benefit, the activity does not replace graduate jobs and existing paid work.

How adaptable is the WIL activity to other disciplines, sectors, teaching practices etc?

This process can be adapted to any subject, particularly those where experience helps embed the learning. The process – with a three-step teaching method (see below), clear schedule and communications, and set timeframes – is key. This is now well-developed with clear goals, roles, responsibilities and project management systems. Shopfront coordinates sourcing of community clients with student-ready briefs, leaving the subject coordinator to focus on mentoring and learning outcomes. A key component is the requirement for the process to be guided by teaching staff with both significant theoretical and industry implementation expertise.

How sustainable is the WIL activity beyond its immediate implementation?

Curriculum development has been based on solid evaluation processes involving all stakeholders (see below). The subject is successful and sustainable. It has seen a 21% increase in student enrolments, and community organisations, through word-of-mouth, now approach UTS specifically for a ‘pricing project’. However, in comparison to a traditional classroom subject, an additional five hours per week is required by the subject coordinator to run these ‘live-client’ projects. (Note: this extra workload has halved from around 10 hours per week in year one, due to process improvements.)

How is the success of the WIL activity evaluated?

Students complete a survey prior to commencing the subject to identify current skills, employment, and concerns. A mid-semester feedback is also completed to check course experience and quality. As part of their final report, teams complete questions on their experience and lessons learnt. Post-semester, individual students are surveyed regarding the process and outcomes. In 2018, 90% agreed the work was relevant to their professional development and 87% agreed it was relevant for their personal development. Clients complete an evaluation on each group project and a post-semester evaluation on process and overall satisfaction of the outcomes. All community partners over five years said they would recommend their experience to other organisations. All data is used to enhance future projects.

What are the wider impacts of the WL activity beyond completion?

As the pre-semester survey showed, many students had little or no work-experience, and students are encouraged to put the projects on their CVs and LinkedIn profiles to help enhance employment opportunities. Anecdotal evidence via student evaluations and communications highlight subject alumni have used their new skills for internships with past pricing clients including Monkey Baa Theatre, and employment with organisations such as Porsche, YMCA, and major banks. Community clients are provided with workable solutions and value working with universities. Client successes include Information and Cultural Exchange, Studio A, Accessible Arts, Parkinson’s NSW, and Tranby Indigenous Business Hub. Finally, faculty have a model, and teaching materials and templates which are transferrable to other subjects.

How does the WIL activity approach the preparation, implementation and reflection phases of WIL?

Before changing to live projects, evaluation findings showed students could apply learned theory but were not able to adapt the theory to other scenarios. Introduction of the WIL component now sees a three-step teaching method:

  1. To avoid overwhelming the students, learning is scaffolded across the semester, ‘drip feeding’ complex theoretical content including strategy, psychology, and analysis.
  2. A case study is used in classroom workshops to practice application of each theory. At the end of every practice session, the students are given the opportunity to reflect, ask questions, and depending on the overall confidence level, additional practice material is designed for the students, so that they have a template to follow for their client’s project.
  3. Student teams apply these theories to their client’s project.

What are the learning outcomes of the WIL activity and how do they link to graduate attributes?

All outcomes link directly to UTS Business graduate attributes:

  • Business knowledge and concepts – students learn pricing theory and apply it ‘live’.
  • Critical thinking, creativity and analytical skills – students analyse real, complex data sets and scenarios and are challenged to think deeply to form usable recommendations.
  • Communication and interpersonal skills – students work in teams and communicate with clients throughout.
  • Attitudes and values – working with non-profit organisations develops social responsibility and generates commitment to their client and understanding of the client’s social mission.
  • Business practice-oriented skills – real projects connect complex implementation to the classroom.

What are the plans for the WIL activity in the future?

In 2018 the platform was applied to an undergraduate subject in the Management School, and there are now plans for transferral within the Marketing School. The balance of successful learning outcomes for students and useful outcomes for external partners has been achieved.

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Sand, Surf, Social Work and Law: inter-professional learning and practice at the University of Newcastle

Sand, Surf, Social Work and Law: inter-professional learning and practice at the University of Newcastle

An off-campus, inter-professional, outreach clinic for law and social work at The University of Newcastle.

tamara blakemore and shaun mccarthy

Dr Tamara Blakemore, Head of Discipline Social Work, Tamara.Blakemore@newcastle.edu.au
and Shaun McCarthy, Director UON Legal Centre, Shaun.Mccarthy@newcastle.edu.au University of Newcastle

Law on the Beach is a free legal advice clinic conducted by Newcastle Law School over summer. The clinics are held in the Newcastle Surf Club and aim to make seeking legal advice more approachable and accessible for the community. In the last three years social work students have worked alongside law students to provide deep inter-professional learning opportunities for both student cohorts, enabling them to draw upon their respective professional responsibilities and at the same time generating a commitment to social justice. In the process, trust, respect and an appreciation of role and purpose between the students is developed.

Full details of 'Sand, Surf, Social Work and Law: inter-professional learning and practice at the University of Newcastle'

Disciplines included in the WIL activity

Law and Social Work

Model of WIL activity

Industry/community based placement, off-campus clinic

Brief description of WIL activity

Law on the Beach is a free legal advice clinic conducted by Newcastle Law School over summer. The clinics are held in the Newcastle Surf Club and aim to make seeking legal advice more approachable and accessible for the community. In the last three years social work students have worked alongside law students to provide deep inter-professional learning opportunities for both student cohorts, enabling them to draw upon their respective professional responsibilities and at the same time generating a commitment to social justice. In the process, trust, respect and an appreciation of role and purpose between the students is developed.

Length of time the WIL activity has been/was in operation

This WIL collaboration between the disciplines at The University of Newcastle (UON) has grown out of an established program called ‘Law on the Beach’ which has operated at UON for the last 15 years. However, over the last 3 years, this outreach clinic has evolved to include an inter-professional offering involving social work and law students working alongside social work practitioners and academics and University of Newcastle Legal Centre lawyers and pro bono lawyers. The inclusion of both disciplines has enabled clients to be assisted in a more holistic way and facilitates better service to the community of Newcastle.

Who benefits from the WIL activity?

Inter-professional WIL in this outreach clinic setting is not only valuable in supporting the work readiness and professional practice of students/graduates, it also has strong application to complex social issues and represents an innovative point of engagement and benefit with and for the local community. Alumni working in industry are recruited as pro bono lawyers to work alongside the students. The lawyers are able to count their time towards their Australian Pro Bono Centre requirements. The UON Legal Centre engages the legal profession to assist in ‘warm’ referrals for client casework which is beyond the resources of the Centre.

How does the WIL activity demonstrate good practice and/or innovation?

While most WIL activities are discipline specific or even some are inter, multi or trans-disciplinary, what differentiates this collaboration between law and social work disciplines is its inter-professional approach. Inter professional education and practice is different from inter, multi or trans-disciplinary practice due to the focus on inter-professional learning in a collaborative problem-solving framework. Lawyers and social workers professional paths often intersect and overlap due to the nature of their professions and intersections with their clients and workplaces, as such, preparing graduates for practice through experiencing inter-professional partnerships is beneficial for future practitioners.

How adaptable is the WIL activity to other disciplines, sectors, teaching practices etc?

This collaboration between the Faculty of Business and Law and the Faculty of Education and Arts is mutually beneficial for pedagogical development not only between these disciplines but as an exemplar for other disciplines at UON and beyond. Already interest has been expressed by other disciplines at UON for involvement in this inter-professional model, with consideration being given to expanding the range of disciplines participating at the beach clinics to include business and financial students and academics. This practice of inter-professional WIL could be extended to other complementary disciplines and sectors, including the vocational education sector, where professional paths intersect.

How sustainable is the WIL activity beyond its immediate implementation?

Law on the Beach has demonstrated sustainability and growth over the past 15 years– addressing the need for WIL placements for law students and unmet need for free legal services for disadvantaged populations. The introduction of inter-professional learning and service provision with the inclusion of Social Work has strengthened capacity of the service to meet the needs of an increasing number of clients with very clearly intertwined social and legal issues. The sustainability of the program is supported by active engagement of alumni and industry professionals across both disciplines and through wider community service sector promotion, support and post-clinic engagement.

How is the success of the WIL activity evaluated?

Through evaluative research of the program, insights on the lessons gained have been able to be identified and reported at conferences, and in a pending publication. While both disciplines voiced their own prejudices about the other discipline at the outset, through the process of participating in this inter-professional WIL experience, students express an increased respect for and understanding of the other profession, dispelling their held stereotypical views. The research showed that benefits to students through participation were many and varied, some lessons being common to both disciplines while others were specific to either law or social work.

What are the wider impacts of the WL activity beyond completion?

Impacts of the Law on the Beach clinic post completion extend to community members accessing the service, the broader service sector, participating students, practitioners and academics. Community members accessing the service benefit through warm referrals and assistance in navigating available supports with the wider sector of support services in turn benefits from increased reach, access and engagement with hard to reach groups. Additionally there are parallel learnings and benefits to practitioners, academics and students involved who all increase their practice capacity and employability through increased inter-professional knowledge, skills, demonstrated behaviours, mentoring and role-modelling, confidence and connections across disciplines and industry.

How does the WIL activity approach the preparation, implementation and reflection phases of WIL?

Prior to commencement, the law and social work students are prepared together. Students’ interview clients who attend the clinic, problem solve legal issues and support needs and provide advice under supervision. Students are able to observe each other, discuss different knowledge and approaches and work on solutions together, calling on assistance from lecturers and practitioners in support of this learning. Following the experience, a written reflective exercise and reflective discussions focused on ethical and professional frameworks, theoretical and conceptual foundations in each profession, provide a unique opportunity for deep learning due to the urgency created in the clinic context.

What are the learning outcomes of the WIL activity and how do they link to graduate attributes?

Through inter-professional immersive learning and open communication, students from both disciplines are able to examine any discipline bias and tensions in a supportive environment. According to the law and social work program convenors, developing intensive processes and spaces for complex problem solving, client engagement, and inter professional practice in a ‘real life’ context extends the analytical, interpersonal, empathic and critical capacity learning outcomes across each discipline. This WIL activity exemplifies UON’s graduate attributes and institutional values of having an enduring commitment to equity and social justice, preparing graduates who make a difference, and having a shared future with our communities.

What are the plans for the WIL activity in the future?

Student evaluation of the initiative highlights “the opportunity to sit with real-life complex practice issues was most valuable in challenging assumptions about knowledge, skills, power and profession”. Inter-professional WIL represents a critical next step for the future of WIL above and beyond ‘internships’ ‘placements’ and ‘service learning’. Future plans for the activity aim to extend opportunities for broader discipline involvement, focusing on responsive community embedded practice to regional issues. City based space for inter-professional, industry-engaged practice will ensure the learning opportunities and social good achieved by this activity are not curtailed to the summer session of the University timetable.

Year/s of study covered by the activity

This inter-professional WIL activity is designed for both second year Juris Doctor, 4th year Bachelor of Laws (Hons) students, and latter year Bachelor of Social Work (Hons) students.

University of Newcastle students conducting an off-campus, inter-professional, outreach clinic for law and social work.