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Work-Based Learning

Work-Based Learning Defined

Work-based learning (WBL) is an educational approach that, by design, links learning in the workplace to learning in the classroom to engage students more fully and to intentionally promote their exposure and access to future educational and career possibilities. 

WBL includes all interactions with employers from career exploration discussions in the classroom to field trips, mentoring, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experiences. 

WBL experiences support student learning about work, for work and through work. 

Some Examples of Work-Based Learning

 

1. Guest Speakers- The ideal speaker is familiar with your curriculum and is prepared to address specific academic, technical or career topics you want covered. Students are prepared with background knowledge and can engage in discussions relevant to the topic. 
 
2. Workplace Tours and Field Trips- An activity to promote career awareness. Students should have the opportunity to learn about the business, meet employees, ask questions and observe work in progress. 
 
3. Job Shadowing- A career exploration activity in which students observe the workday of a professional, attend meetings, and interact with customers or clients. An ideal job shadow engages students in active research, information gathering, and learning. 
 
4. Mentoring- A career exploration activity which matches students with adult professionals in a chosen field of interest. Career mentors should be prepared to provide guidance and insights about careers and education. 
 
5. Externships- Career awareness for teachers. Externships for teachers can last one or two weeks and allow them to spend time working in a career related to their pathway. This is an opportunity for teachers to learn the most current trends in a field or career connected to their academic or technical curriculum. 
 
6. Internships- A career preparation activity in which students are placed in a business for a defined period of time to participate in and observe work firsthand within a given industry. Internships are highly structured, time-limited experiences that occur at a worksite. Unlike work experience, internships often allow students to rotate through a number of departments and job functions.
 
7. School-Site WBL- Not all work-based learning takes place in the workplace. Students may practice workplace skills and competencies as part of any number of academic and technical endeavors on the school campus. These might include student-run businesses, career-related student competitions, service learning, and work done in “classroom labs” where specialized equipment allows for the replication of a work setting. 
 
8. Curricular Input- Involving community partners at the design phase of integrated project-based curriculum can help to infuse real-world rigor leading to richer, more relevant projects. Partners can also be invaluable in assessing student work during the presentation phase of a project. 

Career Resources

One of the first steps in developing a strong Work-Based Learning program is to create career awareness among students and faculty. Here are some excellent resources for promoting career awareness, exploration, and preparation. 

http://www.careeronestop.org/

Online College and Career Resources

Career Exploration Tools

California Career Planning Guide

Online Writing Lab (Job Applications, Letters and Resumes)

WBL in LD4

In our first year of implementing linked learning in LD4 we have begun incorporating work-based learning (WBL) experiences into all of our linked learning pathways. In many cases we have built on WBL activities that were already in place at the schools by using an "assess and upgrade" process. This process, introduced to us by ConnectEd, measures WBL experiences against a set of criteria and desired student learning outcomes, and was the centerpiece of the WBL Symposium attended by 80 participants in April of 2011. 

If you would like to use this process at your school, please download the following files from the Work-Based Learning Professional Development folder in the Linked Learning Locker:

WBL PD, Career Practicum, and WBL Rubric. 

WBL Questions? Comments?

DeBonis, Paul
Work-Based Learning Coordinator