The Strengths and Weaknesses of a ‘Learning while Earning' Variation of Work-Integrated Learning (WIL)

The Strengths and Weaknesses of a ‘Learning while Earning' Variation of Work-Integrated Learning (WIL)

Kaye Clark (Department of Built Environment, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, QLD, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/ijqaete.2014070102


The background focus of this discussion about work-integrated learning is the three streams of undergraduate Built Environment programs at Central Queensland University that are accredited by their relevant industries. CQU's students' truly work-integrated learning experience may be considered to be a 'self-paced flexible learning while earning' process. Relevant background theories of philosophy and the more recent manifestations of WIL are discussed at length in considering the strengths and weaknesses of the formal and informal opportunities for putting theory into practice in this alternative form of work integrated learning.
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1. Introduction

1.1. To WIL or Not to WIL

Given the current volume of research and debate in the literature about work-integrated learning (WIL), one could be forgiven for wondering if that might be leading towards a complete change of the power-balance in relationships between universities and industries (Choy & Delahaye, 2011, Newman, 2012), or is there simply a risk of entangling the previously clear demarcation between theory and practice? Is it possible that some might now be passing over the theoretical baton to industry or will that control of content be retained by the education providers?

There are many forms of WIL, including worker-learners, integrative learning, internships, practicum, supervised practice and project-based learning (PBL) for example that currently form essential content in curriculum design for higher education institutions (Smith, 2012, Purdie, et al, 2013, Jackson, 2013). For an earlier publication this author proposed that the mixed forms of work-integrated learning that our students undertake may be categorised as a form of 'self-paced flexible learning while earning' WIL process.

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