WIL Leadership Vignette 04:
What was learned from this:
Context of the event, experience or activity:
There is a growing interest in service learning, or community engaged learning in Australian universities. Griffith University offers a service learning elective course available to all undergraduate students, meaning that all students are able to engage in a WIL activity if they choose. Over 500 students are presently participating in this unit annually including students who choose to overload on their degree requirements. It is a particularly accessible WIL opportunity for international students.
Description of the event, experience or activity:
Griffith University has established partnerships with over 200 different community organisations, with over 100 being active at any point in time, to offer between 300 and 500 placement opportunities to students. Students volunteer in a not-for-profit organisations for a minimum of 50 hours, while also completing a shell academic course. Students select the internship role that most appeals to them, or they can bring their own existing appropriate volunteering activity. The course is structured such that the oversight of students is shared between the community organisation, and a specifically allocated Academic Advisor who tracks the student’s experience throughout the semester. While more than one student might be engaged by a particular organisation, students generally work on individual internships with carefully designed learning outcomes suited to their internship activities, their discipline learning, and personal growth opportunities. Reflection is a key component of ensuring student learning in the course. The unit has a strong emphasis on the student completing an industry-approved learning contract in the first three weeks of the internship to ensure expectations of all stakeholders are aligned.
Like many WIL experiences, students career focus can shift substantially during this experience. However, in addition to what might be considered normal WIL outcomes of an internship, students also experience deep personal transformations, which lead them to continue volunteering beyond the course and engage more broadly as citizens within their community.
Carol-joy Patrick is the Coordinator of the Service Learning Unit at Griffith University and the Convenor of the Community Internship unit.