Complex problem: complex research design; researching the impact of WIL on employability
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Work Integrated Learning (WIL) is internationally recognised as the intentional integration of theory and practice whereby students develop employability capabilities through simulated or work-based learning opportunities. It enables students to learn through experience in practical settings. The WIL agenda is gaining momentum as it is perceived as a mechanism for addressing increasing accountability measures facing the higher education sector and societal demands that the higher education experience prepare graduates for the dynamic global workforce. This paper provides an overview of the research methodology employed in the national project: Assessing the impact of WIL on student work-readiness. The research which is funded by the Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) and endorsed by The Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN) has been underway since late 2011. The overarching aim of this research was to provide an evidence base for judging the impact of WIL on graduates’ readiness to commence work and guide university leaders in best practice and curricula investment. Fourteen universities have been involved in the project, providing coverage of a wide range of disciplines and different types of WIL. Data have been collected from students, graduates and employers thereby providing triangulated data sets from multiple stakeholders. The paper highlights preliminary findings emerging from the research and the impact on curriculum design and the student experience.
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