Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN) Forum – Work Integrated Learning and Graduate Attributes 2 May 2011


I attended the ACEN forum on Work Integrated Learning and Graduate Attributes in May 2011.  The forum was held at the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.  Seventeen Australian and New Zealand higher education institutions were represented.  There was good attendance from academic and allied staff, and senior management. The speakers included Simon Barrie, Sydney University, Beverley Oliver, Curtin University, Pauline O’Loughlin and Lisa Andersen, University of Technology Sydney, Professor Ieva Stupan, University of New England, and Martin Smith, University of Wollongong.

The forum discussed a range of information and ideas including the role of citizenship in higher education, balancing the needs of economy and democracy.  We also discussed the value of immersion in the workplace, and the problems of evaluating the quality of work integrated learning.  Simon Barrie and Beverley Oliver both discussed the challenge of including work integrated learning in curriculum renewal processes.  Community based learning was a strong theme, as was career development.

The presenters provided useful resources and approaches to developing graduate attributes that enhance work integrated learning opportunities.  A six step process was suggested which included:

1. Determining learning goals in the capabilities that count for professional success.

2. Mapping student development and asssessment of capabilities throughout the curriculum.

3. Supporting student achievement of the capabilities though work integrated learning.

4. Evaluating student assessment of capabilities though teacher/external/self and peer assessment.

5. Gathering stakeholder perceptions of new graduates achievement of those capabilities.

6. Benchmarking, planning and monitoring advancements and then starting over!

Underlying the day’s discussion was the desire for work integrated learning to enhance student learning experiences and professional and personal success.  Clearly defined graduate attributes, an engaged curriculum and work integrated learning should be of value to both teachers and students.  The conclusion from participants was that students learn better where there is challenge and participation.

The forum was valuable for the sharing of resources, papers, presentations, research, people and organisations which are involved in work integrated learning.

The links to presentations are available here.  Thank you to Unitec for supporting my travel to this event.




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