The value of embedding work-integrated learning and other transitionary supports into the first year curriculum: Perspectives of first year subject coordinators
The first year of university, also known as the first year experience (FYE), is a crucial time for students as they learn a range of new practices that enable them to study and pursue a discipline or profession of interest. The function of this transitionary time however in relation to providing both a successful transition into university as well as an orientation to the profession is under-developed. Work-integrated learning is a leading pedagogy in tertiary institutions to build student’s career-readiness by applying theory within work experiences. However, despite the growth of WIL across discipline contexts, little is known about the prevalence and impact of WIL practices within the first year of tertiary study. The purpose of this study was to explore the perspectives of those who design and facilitate first year subjects on the value of embedding WIL and other transitionary supports into the first year curriculum. A qualitative case study was employed, with interviews from ten first-year subject coordinators within a single degree and institution. The findings reveal three crucial areas of transition in the first year: Transition into learning, Transition into being a student, and Transition into becoming a professional. Recommendations centre on benefits of a whole-of-course approach to transition and WIL for developing students with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed both at university and into the workplace.
Aprile, K.T., & Knight, B.A. (2020). The WIL to learn: students’ perspectives on the impact of work-integrated learning placements on their professional readiness. Higher Education Research & Development, 39(5), 869–882. doi:10.1080/07294360.2019.1695754
Ayala, J. C., & Manzano, G. (2018). Academic performance of first-year university students: the influence of resilience and engagement. Higher Education Research & Development, 37(7), 1321–1335. doi: 10.1080/07294360.2018.1502258
Baik, C., Naylor, R., Arkoudis, S., & Dabrowski, A. (2019). Examining the experiences of first-year students with low tertiary admission scores in Australian universities. Studies in Higher Education, 44(3), 526–538. doi:10.1080/03075079.2017.1383376
Bates, G.W., Rixon, A., Carbone, A., & Pilgrim, C. (2019). Beyond employability skills: Developing professional purpose. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 10(1), 7–26. doi:10.21153/jtlge2019vol10no1art794
Billett, S. (2009). Realising the educational worth of integrating work experiences in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 34(7), 827–843. doi: 10.1080/03075070802706561
Bowles, M., Ghosh, S., & Thomas, L. (2020). Future-proofing accounting professionals: Ensuring graduate employability and future readiness. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 11(1), 1–21. doi:10.21153/jtlge2020vol11no1art886
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative research in psychology. 3(2), 77–101. doi:10.1191/1478088706qp063oa
Briggs, A. R. J., Clark, J., & Hall, I. (2012). Building bridges: Understanding student transition to university. Quality in Higher Education, 18(1), 3–21. doi:10.1080/13538322.2011.614468
Cheng, M., Barnes, G., Edwards, C. & Valyrakis, M. (2015a). Transition skills and strategies: Key transition skills at the different transition points. Glasgow: The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.
Cheng, M., Barnes, G., Edwards, C. & Valyrakis, M. (2015b). Transition skills and strategies: Transition models and how students experience change. Glasgow: The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.
Coll, R.K., & Chapman, R. (2000). Choices of methodology for cooperative education researchers. Asia-Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education, 1(1), 1–8.
Cooper, L., Orrell, J., & Bowden, M. (2010). Work integrated learning: A guide to effective practice. London: Routledge.
Dean, B.A., & Sykes, C. (2020). How students learn of placement: Transitioning placement practices in work-integrated learning. Vocations & Learning. doi: 10.1007/s12186-020-09257-x
Dean, B.A., Eady, M.J., & Yanamandram, V. (2020). Advancing non-placement work-integrated learning across the degree. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice. 17(4). https://ro.uow.edu.au/jutlp/vol17/iss4/1
Dean, B.A., Yanamandram, V., Eady, M.J., Moroney, T., O’Donnell, N., & Glover-Chambers, T. (2020). An institutional framework for scaffolding work-integrated learning across a degree. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice. 17(4). https://ro.uow.edu.au/jutlp/vol17/iss4/6
Edwards, D., Perkins, K., Pearce, J., & Hong, J. (2015). Work integrated learning in STEM in Australian universities. Canberra: Office of Chief Scientist & Australian Council for Educational Research.
Fernandez, M.F.P., Araujo, A.M., Vacas, C.T., Almeida, L.S., & Gonzalez, M.S.R. (2017). Predictors of students’ adjustment during transition to university in Spain. Psicothema, 29(1), 67–72.
Ferns, S., Campbell, M., & Zegwaard, K. (2014). Work integrated learning. In Ferns, S. (Ed) HERDSA guide: Work integrated learning in the curriculum (pp. 1–6). Milperra: Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia.
Ferns, S., & Lilly, L. (2016). Driving institutional engagement in WIL: Enhancing graduate employability. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 6(1), 116–133. doi:10.21153/jtlge2015vol6no1art577
Fleming, J., & Zegwaard, K. E. (2018). Methodologies, methods and ethical considerations for conducting research in work-integrated learning. International Journal of Work-Integrated Learning, 19(3), 205–213.
Gibney, A., Moore, N., Murphy, F., & O’Sullivan, S. (2011). The first semester of university life; ‘will I be able to manage it at all?’ Higher Education, 62(3), 351–366. doi:10.1007/s10734-010-9392-9
Gillham, B. (2000). Research interview. London and New York: A&C Black.
Godden, H., Eady, M.J., & Dean, B.A. (forthcoming). Practices and perspectives of first year WIL activities: A case study of primary teacher education, in T. Gerhardt (Ed.) Applications of work integrated learning gen Z and Y students. IGI Global: London.
Hefner, J., & Eisenberg, D. (2009). Social support and mental health among college students. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 79(4), 491–499. doi:10.1037/a0016918
Hinchliffe, G., & Jolly, A. (2011). Graduate identity and employability. British Educational Research Journal, 37(4), 563–584.
Hodkinson, P., & Hodkinson, H. (2001). The strengths and limitations of case study research. Paper presented at the Learning and Skills Development Agency Conference at Cambridge.
Jackson, D., Fleming, J., & Rowe, A. (2019). Enabling the transfer of skills and knowledge across classroom and work contexts. Vocations and Learning, 12(3), 459-478. doi:10.1007/s12186-019-09224-1
Jindal-Snape, D. (2010). Educational transitions: Moving stories from around the world. New York: Routledge.
Julal, F. S. (2016). Predictors of undergraduate students’ university support service use during the first year of university. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 44(4), 371–381. doi:10.1080/03069885.2015.1119232
Kift, S. M. (2004). Organising first year engagement around learning: Formal and informal curriculum intervention. Paper presented at the 8th Pacific Rim First Year in Higher Education Conference, ―Dealing with Diversity.ǁ Melbourne, Australia. Retrieved February 20, 2010, from http://www.fyhe.com.au/past_papers/Papers04/Sally%20Kift_paper.doc
Kift, S. (2009). Articulating a transition pedagogy to scaffold and to enhance the first year student learning experience in Australian higher education: Final report for ALTC senior fellowship program: Australian Learning and Teaching Council Strawberry Hills, NSW.
Kift, S. (2015). A decade of transition pedagogy: A quantum leap in conceptualising the first year experience. HERDSA Review of Higher Education, 2(1), 51–86.
Kornbluh, M. (2015). Combatting challenges to establishing trustworthiness in qualitative research. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 12(4), 397–414. doi:10.1080/14780887.2015.1021941
Krause, K. L., & Coates, H. (2008). Students’ engagement in first‐year university. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 33(5), 493–505. doi: 10.1080/02602930701698892
Li, J., Han, X., Wang, W., Sun, G., & Cheng, Z. (2018). How social support influences university students' academic achievement and emotional exhaustion: The mediating role of self-esteem. Learning and Individual Differences, 61, 120–126. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2017.11.016
Lincoln, Y.S., & Guba, E.G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications
Lucas, P., Fleming, J., & Bhosale, J. (2018). The utility of case study as a methodology for work-integrated learning research. International Journal of Work-Integrated Learning, 19(3), 215–222.
McIlveen, P., Brooks, S., Lichtenberg, A., Smith, M., Torjul, P., & Tyler, J. (2011). Perceptions of Career Development Learning and Work-Integrated Learning in Australian Higher Education. Australian Journal of Career Development, 20(1), 32–41. doi:10.1177/103841621102000105
Nelson, K. J., Clarke, J. A., Kift, S. M., & Creagh, T. A. (2011). Trends in policies, programs and practices in the Australasian First Year Experience literature 2000-2010. The First Year in Higher Education Research Series on Evidence-based Practice. Number 1.
Orrell, J. (2004). Work-integrated learning programmes: Management and educational quality. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the Australian Universities Quality Forum.
Patrick, C.-J., Peach, D., Pocknee, C., Webb, F., Fletcher, M., & Pretto, G. (2008). The WIL (Work Integrated Learning) report: A national scoping study. Queensland: Queensland University of Technology.
Patton, M.Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods. CA: Thousand Oakes.
Ramsaroop, S., & Petersen, N. (2020). Building professional competencies through a service learning ‘gallery walk’ in primary school teacher education. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 17(4).
Rowe, A. D., & Zegwaard, K. E. (2017). Developing graduate employability skills and attributes: Curriculum enhancement through work-integrated learning. Asia-Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education, 18(2), 87–99.
Rueger, S. Y., Malecki, C. K., Pyun, Y., Aycock, C., & Coyle, S. (2016). A meta-analytic review of the association between perceived social support and depression in childhood and adolescence. Psychological Bulletin, 142(10), 1017–1067. doi: 10.1037/bul0000058
Saunders, V., & Zuzel, K. (2010). Evaluating employability skills: Employer and student perceptions. Bioscience education, 15(1), 1–15. Doi: 10.3108/beej.15.2
Silva, P., Lopes, B., Costa, M., Melo, A. I., Dias, G. P., Brito, E., & Seabra, D. (2018). The million-dollar question: Can internships boost employment? Studies in Higher Education, 43(1), 2–21. doi:10.1080/03075079.2016.1144181
Soiferman, L. K. (2017). Students' perceptions of their first-year university experience: What universities need to know. Canada: University of Winnepeg. Available at: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED573978.pdf
Sotiriadou, P., Logan, D., Daly, A., & Guest, R. (2020). The role of authentic assessment to preserve academic integrity and promote skill development and employability. Studies in Higher Education, 45(11), 2132–2148.
van Rooij, E. C., Jansen, E. P., & van de Grift, W. J. (2018). First-year university students’ academic success:The importance of academic adjustment. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 33(4), 749–767. Doi: 10.1007/s10212-017-0347-8
Winchester-Seeto, T. & Piggott, L. (2020). ‘Workplace’ or workforce: What are we preparing students for? Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 17(4), 1-6. https://ro.uow.edu.au/jutlp/vol17/iss4/11
Young, K., Palmer, S., & 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