Strong-WILed STEM: from placement-WIL to Faculty-wide multiplicity-WIL

Case Studies | Resource

Institution:

Deakin University

Discipline:

STEM (domains of science, technology and design) enabled through SEBE’s four Schools (Life and Environmental Sciences, Architecture and Built Environment, Information Technology and Engineering) in the study areas of Architecture and construction management; Engineering; Environment; Information technology and the Sciences.

Model/s of WIL activity:

  • Industry/community based placement
  • Case studies
  • Industry/community based projects
  • Simulations
  • Role plays
  • Research activities
  • Site visits
  • Study tours
  • Technology

Level activity is delivered:

Program-wide (course-wide) first year to final year (undergraduate programs)

Strong-WILed STEM: from placement-WIL to Faculty-wide multiplicity-WIL

The evolution of an innovative employability strategy with multiplicity-WIL as the vehicle for change.

This case study represents 15 years of theoretical and empirical work for the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment (SEBE), Deakin University, Australia. The development of work integrated learning (WIL) in SEBE is part of Deakin’s ongoing commitment to build capacity for enabling embedded discipline-centric WIL into all undergraduate programs (Johnson et al., 2018). SEBE holds a long-standing mission to provide all students with a WIL opportunity and therefore is core to our day-to-day teaching and learning operations. But in 2020, a step-change occurred via the SEBE Employability Guiding Plan (SEGP). Our revised strategy to provide scaffolded, embedded, multiple and varied WIL opportunities (multiplicity-WIL) across our entire undergraduate program, via twelve SEGP projects, saw faculty-wide traction of WIL.

Figure 1: A revised WIL strategy to an employability guiding plan.

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

Since 2007.

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

The SEGP (and our evolution of WIL) coincides with accreditation, regulatory, and strategic imperatives requiring us to demonstrate sound pedagogical practices, valuable learning experiences, beneficial outcomes for all parties, and institutional processes for quality assurance and quality improvement (TEQSA, 2017). Such concerns align with Deakin’s aspiration to develop students’ employability and career-relevant skills (Deakin University, 2021). The strategy is part of the lived curricula via the SEGP which ensures every undergraduate career starter, changer or advancer will undertake a core placement experience, complimented by scaffolded WIL curricula, to incrementally enhance their employability.

The demonstration of the faculty-wide innovation for enhancing good practice, via the design (and re-design), piloting implementation (and refinement) of a sustainable multiplicity-WIL model has been grounded in scholarly approaches via action-research studies. We have finalised a conceptual framework and operational plan for generating knowledge of WIL impact in the Faculty (WEF).

The end goal of the SEGP is to integrate, scale, and make ‘stick’ the rich and robust examples of good practice across the last 15 years in over 21 of our undergraduate courses – this will occur via the proof-of-concept curriculum intervention called “Ready 1-2-3-GO”.

Figure 2: Authentic and proximal WIL.

Who benefits from the WIL activity and how?

Institutional support for the SEGP has been well-received and acknowledges the benefits to key stakeholders:
a. Students (the future belongs to our ‘career-ready’ students who will have had multiple and varied core-to-course WIL experiences, assessments, and employability dashboard learning;
b. Industry/community (co-created development of our future leaders, access to research pipelines and partnerships);
c. HE/VE institutions (contribution of good practice models for policy, strategy, and QA benchmarking and reporting on WIL impact (i.e. NPILF).
d. Academic and Professional Staff (capacity building of WIL champions to lead further innovation).

High engagement outcomes include:

  • Faculty-wide (21 undergraduate courses involved);
  • Each course with a fit-for-purpose WIL model involving a minimum of 4 units or more course.
  • 80 Deakin staff (academic and professional) directly involved in 2021-2022 in the re-vision of courses, including critical friends from industry and students as partners.
  • 12 x SEGP curriculum-based projects

How does the activity embed successful evaluation processes?

We are also more focused than ever on frames to measure impact (Campbell et al., 2020; Rowe et al., 2018). A WIL Evaluation Framework (WEF) has been designed specifically for this purpose:

Figure 3: The novel WIL evaluation framework, fit for purpose to SEBE WIL.

Who benefits from the WIL activity and how?

Institutional support for the SEGP has been well-received and acknowledges the benefits to key stakeholders:
a. Students (the future belongs to our ‘career-ready’ students who will have had multiple and varied core-to-course WIL experiences, assessments, and employability dashboard learning;
b. Industry/community (co-created development of our future leaders, access to research pipelines and partnerships);
c. HE/VE institutions (contribution of good practice models for policy, strategy, and QA benchmarking and reporting on WIL impact (i.e. NPILF).
d. Academic and Professional Staff (capacity building of WIL champions to lead further innovation).

High engagement outcomes include:

  • Faculty-wide (21 undergraduate courses involved);
  • Each course with a fit-for-purpose WIL model involving a minimum of 4 units or more course.
  • 80 Deakin staff (academic and professional) directly involved in 2021-2022 in the re-vision of courses, including critical friends from industry and students as partners.
  • 12 x SEGP curriculum-based projects

How does the activity embed successful evaluation processes?

We are also more focused than ever on frames to measure impact (Campbell et al., 2020; Rowe et al., 2018). A WIL Evaluation Framework (WEF) has been designed specifically for this purpose:

In 2022 – sample data is being used to evaluate the impact of WIL in SEBE and a related, but separate, research project addressing the theoretical and practical aspects of evaluating WIL is planned.

In 2023, “READY 1-2-3 GO” (T1/2023+) proof-of-concept trial commences, as will a long-term impact of WIL on student employability – longitudinal study.

What are the broader/longer term impacts for stakeholders? 

The long term benefit of the SEGP for our stakeholders is a sustainable and scalable approach to creating context-specific, fit for purpose course-centric models of WIL. Faculty-wide multiplicity-WIL underpinned by a robust process of evaluation is underway. The longer term impacts for stakeholders is exactly what our evaluation is designed to do via these key research questions:
1. How well is WIL being implemented within each of the modes? (Processes)
2. To what extent is each WIL mode contributing to outcomes (expected and unexpected) for all stakeholders? (Outcomes)
3. What were the enablers/barriers and what could be improved for future growth of employability initiatives in SEBE? (learning)
4. What lessons derived from the evaluation pilot can and will inform (longitudinal) evaluation of WIL in SEBE?

How is the WIL activity integrated into curricula? Include how it incorporates the preparation, implementation, and reflection/debriefing phases of WIL.

Each course-centric WIL model has its own version of integration, and preparation, implementation and reflection stages depending on the 4 WIL principles at play (see SEGP): 1. placement-based WIL as core to course; 2. reflective practice, 3. scaffolded authentic assessments; and 4. career education.

In 2023, what will be common is READY1-2-3-GO (R123G), which capitalises on the discipline-specific exploration and expansions of WIL over the last 15 years. Best described as a gated superhighway, R123G is a curriculum intervention combining: 1) a curated suite of a minimum of three standardised employability learning checkpoints; 2) existing embedded WIL approaches to curricula in the course; and 3) Student-centred personalised learning indicator diagnostics, for course-centric monitoring, measuring and reporting on longitudinal impact of WIL within our undergraduate courses in our faculty. R123G aims to provide a rapid register for counting baseline WIL (mindful that for stakeholder-wide improvement, opportunities for additional and supplementary WIL curricula must remain for course-wide employability enhancement agility).

Describe how the case study is informed by relevant theoretical or empirical literature, research and/or scholarship. Include relevant references.

Since 2013, a series of participatory action-research projects (informed by Reason and Bradbury, 2008) in SEBE were geared to enhance existing and emerging (even absent) whole-of-course WIL practices. These action-research project aim to purposefully plan for, deliver and measure student employability learning and build the capacity of staff to become WIL champions (Young, Cardilini, Hermon & Binek, in press 2022). All action-research curriculum innovation projects (Young et al., 2017) have taken a scholarly approach (Boyer, 1990) to WIL innovations.

Underpinning this work are recent studies and government initiatives (Edwards, et al., 2015; Universities Australia, 2019) that have highlighted the need for improved employment outcomes for some STEM disciplines, to respond to the growing calls for graduates to lead innovation in the jobs and skills of the future.

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

The SEGP will continue beyond 2022, returning to the mode of ‘business as usual’. The end date for the 12 special projects, as part of the SEGP, is December 2022, however harnessing the momentum and maintaining traction gained via the SEGP projects, quality improvement and quality assurance activities and the reporting of outcomes will be facilitated via annual course review processes. Fit-for-purpose WIL models aligned to the curriculum principles in the SEGP are predicated to stick, because of READY1-2-3-GO, but also because of the good-wil resulting from quantity and quality of discipline-centred WIL innovations over the last 15 years in the Faculty.

Figure 4: The 2 year projects driving change in the lived curricula from March 2021 to December 2022.

    References

    Boyer, E. L. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

    Campbell, Matthew, Russell, Leoni, McAllister, Lindy, Smith, Lorraine, Tunny, Ricky, Thomson, Kate, Barrett, Maria (2020). A framework to support assurance of institution-wide quality in work integrated learning. Final Report. Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN), https://acen.edu.au/resources/a-framework-to-support-assurance-of-institution-wide-quality-in-work-integrated-learning/

    Deakin University. (2021). Deakin 2030 Ideas to Impact, Strategic Plan (Refreshed December 2021) https://www.deakin.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/2249270/Strategic-Plan-2030.pdf

    Edwards, D., Perkins, K., Pearce, J., & Hong, J. (2015). Work integrated learning in STEM in Australian universities: Final Report. Office of Chief Scientist; Australian Council for Educational Research.

    Johnson, E.D., Rice, J., Varsavsky, C., Holdsworth, J., Ward, J., Skelly, D., Campbell, M., Jorre de St Jorre, T., Elliott, J and Aughterson, J. (2018). Successful WIL in Science. Department of Education and Training, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

    Reason, P., & Bradbury, H. (Eds.). (2001). Handbook of action research: Participative inquiry and practice (2nd ed.). Sage Publications.

    Rowe, A.D.; Nay, C.; Lloyd, K.; Myton, N.; Kraushaar, N. (2018). Telling your story of work-integrated-learning: A holistic approach to program evaluation, International Journal of Work-Integrated Learning, Special Issue, 19 (3), pp.273-285.

    Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) (2017)

    Universities Australia. (2019). Work integrated learning in universities. Final report. https://tinyurl.com/3srmetmb

    Young, K., Palmer, S. R., & Campbell, M. (2017). Good WIL hunting: building capacity for curriculum re-design. Journal of teaching and learning for graduate employability, 8(1), 215-232. doi:10.21153/jtlge2017vol8no1art670

    Young, K., Cardilini, A., Hermon, K., and Binek, C. (2022). Action-research approach: Building capacity and enhancing work-integrated learning curricula. International Journal of Work-Integrated Learning, in press.

    Kaider, F., Hains-Wesson, R., & Young, K. (2017). Practical typology of authentic WIL learning activities and assessments’, Asia-Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education, vol.18:2, pp. 153-65. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30107968.

    Case Study Leader

    Associate Professor Denise Jackson (ECU)

    Dr Karen Young

    Academic WIL Director, SEBE, Deakin University

    Case Study Members

    Associate Professor Denise Jackson (ECU)

    Prof Malcolm Campbell

    Emeritus Professor, Deakin University

    SEBE ADTL (2003 to 2018)

    Associate Professor Denise Jackson (ECU)

    Prof Jo Coldwell-Neilson

    Emeritus Professor, Deakin University

    SEBE ADTL (2018 to 2021)

    Associate Professor Denise Jackson (ECU)

    A/Prof Michelle Harvey

    SEBE ADTL (2022+)