Theory and practice of why to evaluate WIL: A context-sensitive approach
Keywords:Work-integrated learning (WIL), WIL evaluation (WE), employability, measuring employability, WIL Evaluation Frameworks (WEF)
Higher Education (HE) institutions recognise that Work Integrated Learning (WIL) activities make important contributions to student employability. Despite the growing appetite for understanding the extent and nature of WIL’s impact, there are limited reviews of WIL evaluation (WE) theory and a there is a paucity of clear guidance on the practical steps involved in sector-wide, or even institution-specific, evaluations of WIL. This paper provides a comprehensive analysis of how a Faculty at an Australian University embarked upon an action-research project to design a fit-for-purpose Faculty-wide WIL Evaluation Framework (WEF). An outline of the set of six guiding questions, referred to as the 6W’s of WE – the ‘Why’, ‘Who’, ‘Where’, ‘What’, ‘When’ and ‘hoW’ – is provided. A detailed examination of the first of the 6W’s – the why evaluate WIL question – enlivens our theory-to-practice approach of WE. This research proposes that unpacking the ‘why’ of WIL evaluation (enabled by an action-research approach) is a fundamental first step for probing what is valued and what then should be evaluated. The paper concludes with recommendations for those contemplating designing an institutional-specific WIL evaluation, particularly so that context-specific whys of WIL and WIL evaluation can be galvanised, thus enriching our collective understandings of sector-wide impact.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Karen Young, Anne-Louise Semple, Michelle Harvey, Sophie McKenzie
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