Research Grants

2023 Research Grants

The ACEN grant process this year received a large number of highly competitive applications from across the country. The Board would like to sincerely thank all applicants and grant reviewers for their time and effort invested in this year’s grant process. The Board is pleased to announce the following Research Grants have been awarded for 2023:

Emergent/Early Career Researcher Grants

Increasing student success with work integrated learning: Using artificial intelligence to support situated decision making during clinical laboratories in preparation for placement

Project Lead: Dr Lori Delaney, The University of Queensland

The integration of theory and practice are fundamental tenents in healthcare education, however, the gap between theory-practice often leads to students under prepared for work integrated learning (WIL) and experiencing professional disillusionment.1 The emergence of accessible artificial intelligence (AI) provides tertiary institutions the opportunity to enhance idea exchange between students, and help bridge the theory-practice gap through tailored use of AI within healthcare curricula. The Clinical Laboratory supported by AI to increase WIL success (CLAW) study aims to explore the use of AI in supporting situated decision-making in clinical laboratories, with the intention to increase student success with WIL.

Themes: Artificial Intelligence and WIL, Valuing diversity and inclusion in WIL

Using a benefits realisation approach to co-design mutually beneficial placements involving international students in postgraduate courses

Project Lead: Mr Joe Malibiran, Deakin University

This project addresses the challenges faced by international postgraduate students when undertaking placements. It applies a benefits realisation approach to co-designing, implementing, and evaluating placements — to ensure the attainment of positive outcomes in light of their distinct circumstances. It aims to create sustainable placements that bridge gaps for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Themes: Valuing diversity and inclusion in WIL

Full Research Grants

Co-Creating Inclusive WIL for Future Health Professionals.

Project Lead: Dr Joanna Tai, Deakin University

WIL placements and their assessments are intended to align with inherent requirements, accreditation conditions, and workforce needs. However, increasing student diversity, and work shortages in the health professions, suggest we must explore ways to improve inclusion to support diverse future workers. In this project we will leverage industry perspectives to identify areas for improving equity in how course requirements are assessed to co-create inclusive WIL.

Themes: Valuing diversity and inclusion in WIL

Becoming and flourishing as a neurodiverse teacher

Project Lead: Dr Matthew White, Australian Catholic University

Neurodiverse pre-service teachers face unique barriers preventing them from flourishing in their professional experience (StEvens, 2022; Wood & Happė, 2023). This research project seeks to collaboratively explore barriers and establish an authentic support framework for neurodiverse pre-service teachers during their WIL. Through participatory research, the Project Lead will work alongside an advisory group of neurodiverse teachers and researchers to develop a set of guidelines and a training package to build the capacity of professional experience supervisors in supporting neurodiverse pre-service teachers. The advisory group and the research team will work in collaboration with the NSW Department of Education Disability and Inclusion Team and Professional Experience Hub School Program to pilot and embed the guidelines.

Themes: Valuing diversity and inclusion in WIL

2022 Research Grants

Emergent/Early Career Researcher Grants $5,000

Preparing allied health, nursing, and education students for WIL experiences in the disability sector

Project Lead: Dr Emily Jackson, Curtin University

This project has two aims: (1) to disseminate an NDIS training package to allied health, nursing, and education students in 20+ Australian universities; and (2) to evaluate the effectiveness of this NDIS training package in preparing these students to undertake workplace-based WIL experiences (e.g. fieldwork) where they require an understanding of the NDIS.

Themes: Fostering Partnerships in WIL, Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary learning in WIL.

Allied Health Students Work Integrated Learning (WIL) during Rural Clinical Placement

Project Lead: Romany Martin, University of Tasmania

The Allied Health Rural WIL (AHRWIL) project will triangulate student, clinical educator, and university WIL manager perspectives, and explore the sector wide support needs of rural WIL. The pursuit of wellbeing amongst WIL stakeholders is vital as positive experiences of rural WIL are known to increase intentions for rural practice.

Themes: Fostering Partnerships in WIL, Wellbeing and support during WIL

Full Research Grants $10,000

Addressing the impact of financial literacy on financial stress, wellbeing & participation in unpaid WIL

Project Lead: Deanna Grant-Smith, QUT

Although the pedagogic benefits of WIL are well-documented, recent research shows some students experience significant financial hardship as a result of its unpaid and intensive nature. Financial hardship is a known cause of stress, anxiety, and attrition among student cohorts, which can impact on student wellbeing and lead to inequitable learning outcomes. Low levels of financial literacy can exacerbate financial stress, compounding the barriers to successful WIL placements for these students. This research will contribute to understandings of WIL wellbeing by exploring the relationship between financial literacy, financial stress, student wellbeing and practicum performance. It will explore specific outcomes of financial stress and investigate the role that financial literacy education may play in assisting students to manage and mitigate the financial stress associated with unpaid WIL placements.

Themes: Wellbeing and support during WIL, Equitable and inclusive WIL experiences

Rapport between supervisors from different professions: Tapping into unrealised potential for developing students’ collaborative practice through work integrated learning.

Project Lead: Dr Susan Heaney, University of Newcastle

The importance of supervisors’ role-modelling their interprofessional rapport for the development of students’ collaborative practice in healthcare is often overlooked in work integrated learning (WIL). Through online, innovative workshops with a focus on interdisciplinary reflexivity, this project aims to tap into the unrealised potential of explicitly role-modelling rapport to support quality supervision of WIL.

Themes: Quality supervision and preparing stakeholders for WIL, Equitable and inclusive WIL experiences, Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary learning in WIL

2021 Research Grants

Emergent/Early Career Researcher Grants $5,000

The Impact of Structured Interprofessional Education (IPE) Clinical Placements on Student Interprofessional Collaborative

Sonya Mattiazzi, University of Queensland

Despite ever-increasing interest in interprofessional education, our work shows there is a considerable knowledge gap on how clinical placements impact on the development of interprofessional collaborative practice functioning behaviour in health professional students (Mattiazzi, Cottrell, Ng, & Beckman, 2021). This project aims to address this gap by investigating the development of these behaviours in specific interprofessional placements when compared to more traditional placements where there is a focus on a single profession.

Themes: Impact of WIL

Final Report

Experience of Students with disabilities engaging in WIL placements

Timothy Boye, University of Technology Sydney

Universities put significant resources into supporting students with disabilities on campus. However, off-campus in work-integrated learning (WIL) employers are expected to take responsibility for students on a day-to-day basis. This project seeks to understand and communicate the experience of students with disabilities on WIL placement in order to better support them in future.

Themes: Inclusive practice, equity and access in WIL

Final Report

Full Research Grants $10,000

Equitable WIL: Building host organisation capacity to ensure safe and inclusive WIL programs for students with a disability.

Tanya Lawlis, University of Canberra

This project will improve the accessibility and participation of students with a disability engaging in WIL. Framed around three concepts: aware, prepared and inclusive, the developed framework with resources will facilitate host organisation engagement, capacity and confidence to provide safe, relevant and appropriate WIL opportunities that meet relevant legislation and university requirements and, improve student engagement.

Themes: Inclusive practice, equity and access in WIL

Final Report

Avoiding Transactional Placements: Tips, training, and guidance from the lived experience of Indigenous organisations and community groups.

Wayne Read, Deakin University

The project collaborates with Indigenous organisations (businesses and community groups) to understand the current experiences with WIL, including the benefits and consequences of engaging with WIL programs in the past and in the future. Through a collaborative research technique, the project will develop guides for practitioners on establishing sustainable, respectful Indigenous WIL partnerships, and training material for preparing students ahead of placements within Indigenous businesses and groups.

Themes: Indigenous engagement with WIL

2020 Research Grants

Emergent/Early Career Researcher Grants $5,000

Developing an innovative and accessible WIL taxonomy to support psychology undergraduate students

Annabelle Neall, University of Queensland

Australian psychology students are the sole allied-health group ineligible for practitioner registration following conferral of their undergraduate degree. This project aims to construct and validate a taxonomy of work integrated learning activities and initiatives, to enhance the skillset and abilities of psychology undergraduates and endorse their transition to an increasingly diverse workforce.

Themes: Sustainable, scalable and innovative WIL models, Designing and implementing quality in WIL

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Private practice Work Integrated Learning (WIL) opportunities for health professional students: Increasing capacity for educational quality and equity

Roma Forbes, University of Queensland

The WIL in Private Practice (WILPP) project uses a three-part mixed methods approach to investigate, explore and articulate strategies which are currently used to successfully integrate student health professional WIL into private practice service delivery. This project scaffolds on previous industry partnered ACEN projects to create a sector-wide resource to enhance WIL capacity through providing practical solutions to student service delivery for new and existing WIL providers.

Themes: Designing and implementing quality in WIL, Equity of access to WIL

Final Report

Full Research Grants $10,000

Facilitating student engagement with WIL: A risk management framework for studentships

Anne Hewitt, University of Adelaide

Craig Cameron, Griffith University

Around the world WIL was embraced as a strategy to facilitate student transition to employment in the difficult economic circumstances flowing from the GFC. We can expect that to be replicated in the current economic turmoil caused by COVID-19. The provision of stakeholder scholarships, bursaries, grants and stipends (collectively ‘studentships’) is an important strategy to support students’ financial capacity to complete WIL. However, studentships are not without risk. This project will develop an institutional risk management framework that may guide the evaluation and design of studentships in collaboration with studentship providers (institutions, government and industry).

Themes: Sustainable, scalable and innovative WIL models

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Interprofessional telehealth services: An innovative WIL model for accredited health programs during COVID 19 and beyond

Rachel Bacon, University of Canberra

This project provides strategic leadership to the ACEN community and other stakeholders to optimise telehealth’s role in Interprofessional Education (IPE) and WIL. Under the leadership of an expert panel, research within a university health clinic will explore the strengths and challenges, learning experiences and learning outcomes offered by telehealth. This will inform guidelines and a suite of practical resources.

Themes: Sustainable, scalable and innovative WIL models, WIL within digital and virtual learning environments, Building learner agency and professional identity through WIL

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