Work integrated learning for life : encouraging agentic engagement

Peach, Deborah & Matthews, Judy H. (2011) Work integrated learning for life : encouraging agentic engagement. In HERSA Conference 2011 : Higher Education on the Edge, 4-7 July 2011, Radisson Resort, Gold Coast, QLD.

View at publisher


In a rapidly changing world where new work patterns impact on our health, relationships and social fabric, it is critical that we reconsider the role universities could or should play in helping students prepare for the complexities of the 21st century. Efforts to respond to economic imperatives such as the skills shortage have seen a rush to embed work integrated and career development learning in the curriculum as well as a strengthening of the discourse that the university’s role is primarily to produce industry ready or ‘oven ready and self basting’ graduates (Atkins, 1999). This narrow focus on ‘giving industry what industry wants’ (Patrick, Peach & Pocknee, 2009) ignores the importance of helping students develop the types of skills and dispositions they will need. To enable students to thrive not just survive socially and economically in a radically unknowable world, where knowledge becomes obsolete, we need to be ready to develop new futures (Barnett, 2004).

This paper considers the concept of ‘work’, the role it plays in our lives, and our aspirations to build sustainable, socially connected communities. We revisit the assumptions underlying the employability argument (Atkins, 1999) in the light of changing notions of work (Hagel, Seely Brown & Davison, 2010), and the need for higher education to contribute to a better and more sustainable society (Pocock, 2003). Specifically we present initiatives developed from work integrated learning (WIL) programs in the United Kingdom and Australia, where WIL programs are framed within the broader context of real world and life-wide curriculum (Jackson, 2010), and where transferable skills and elements of work-related learning programs prepare students for less certain job futures. Such approaches encourage students to take an agentic role (Billett & Pavlova, 2005) in selecting their work possibilities to develop resilience and capabilities to deal with new and challenging situations, assisting students to become who they want to be not just what they want to be. The theoretical and operational implications and challenges of shaping real world and life-wide curriculum will be investigated in more depth in the next phase of this research.

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

397 since deposited on 18 Aug 2011
56 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 44064
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Curriculum Reform, Work Integrated Learning, HERN, Social Connectedness
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > OTHER EDUCATION (139900)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 [please consult the authors]
Deposited On: 18 Aug 2011 22:23
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2017 11:07

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page