Work Integrated Learning (WIL) has been defined as a “pedagogical practice whereby students come to learn from the integration of experiences in educational and workplace settings” (Billett, 2009). It forms part of a broader pedagogical practice associated with Experiential Learning (EL), which is often defined as learning through experience or, more precisely, through the act of reflecting on an experience.
Jamieson (1994) defines EL as “learning in which the learner is directly in touch with the realities being studied. It is contrasted with the learner who only reads about, hears about, talks about, or writes about these realities but never comes into contact with them as part of the learning process.” EL encourages students to solve real-world problems by placing them in settings that encourage risk taking and value the process of problem solving as much as finding the solution to a problem. For EL to be truly transformative, students must be willing to be involved in an experience, reflect on the experience, conceptualize the experience and ultimately experiment with the knowledge they acquired through the experience.
Today, WIL and EL philosophy are driving forces behind the design of university programs around the world. UTM, along with a number of post-secondary institutions across Canada, have made WIL and EL a major component of their educational philosophy by actively engaging faculty and UTM students, as well as the broader UTM community, to develop strong relationships that will allow our students to more fully experience the real-world applications of their field of study.
For more information about Experiential Learning at UTM, please visit the Experiential Education Unit’s website at https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/experience/experiential-education-unit.
WIL courses should be designed to target process over content-specific learning and often include opportunities for student insight to be incorporated into the summative or formative assessment instruments in the course. Students should learn to critically evaluate their own performance and be afforded the opportunity to provide real-time feedback both to their peers as well as the course instructors. Assignments and other assessments should measure students’ ability to apply the problem-solving skills that are essential for developing the expertise required in their field.
In order to help UTM instructors develop and teach WIL and EL courses, the WIL Liaison provides support in the following areas:
- course (lecture and tutorial/lab) design from the ground up
- assignment design focusing on process
- assessment design
- reflective practice strategies (e.g., daily journals, in-class surveys, focus group reflection)
The WIL Liaison (and other RGASC faculty and staff) can support instructors during the initial phase of course design or help to evaluate the assessment methods currently in place. To arrange a meeting to learn more about WIL or to get support for your WIL course, please contact:
Associate Professor, Teaching Stream and WIL Liaison
Reflective Writing Workshop
This workshop is aimed towards students in Work Integrated Learning (WIL) and Experiential Learning (EL) courses, focusing on strategies to improve reflective writing.
Improve your reflective writing by learning:
- strategies for critically analyzing your experiences
- applying reflection to your placement
- using reflection to enhance your learning
Billett, S. (2009). “Realising the educational worth of integrating work experiences in higher education.” Studies in Higher Education 34(7), 827-843.
Jamieson, I. (1994). “Experimental learning in the context of teacher education.” In G. Harvard and P. Hodkinson, Action and reflection in teacher education (pp. 35-54). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.