Surviving and thriving through 2020: A BJBS WPL journey

Kirrily Welsh, Liz Bracken, Jennifer Grainger

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Work placement has well documented benefits for multiple stakeholders and contributes to student success at university and beyond (Brooks & Youngson, 2016; Jackson & Collings, 2018; O’Donovan, 2018). University work placement is particularly prized for its ability to develop employability skills which lead to better graduate employment (Margaryan, Saniter, Schumann, & Siedler, 2019; Silva et al., 2018). For placement programs to succeed and contribute to employability skill development and student success, both professional and academic staff support to operationalise the placement program is required. This presentation provides a snap shot of the BLBS WPL data collection journey through 2020. In particular, two unexpected crises, the bushfires and COVID-19 provoked changes in WPL data collection which have improved the WPL team’s ability to target and engage students in need of additional assistance to ensure a successful placement experience. While all WPL students were reported safe, the 2019/20 Australian bushfire emergency triggered reflection by BJBS WPL stakeholders on the existing placement processes around crisis management. Fortuitously, a better understanding of student placement behaviour both through and after the bushfires laid the foundations for a more adaptive, responsive and flexible WPL framework. This initial groundwork better prepared BJBS WPL for successful management of students and placements during COVID-19. During the bushfire crisis we reviewed the data captured by InPlace at that time. We also considered what, if any, additional student information would provide better tracking of our students to assist facilitation of successful placements. As a result changes were made to WPL student data capture to track some of the changes in placement the WPL team were noticing. The changes made to BJBS WPL data collection proved very useful during COVID-19 to identify and then adapt placements to better suit student needs. This improved student engagement in the placement program with a number of students being supported to continue in the subject rather than withdrawing from placement. This level of student engagement during a crisis was achieved through working with the student, host supervisor and academics to secure agreement around working from home arrangements, virtual placements, deferred placement and work-integrated learning projects. On an operational level, the access to more detailed student WPL data has provided wider program visibility and a chance to update and improve current practices. The ability to access more granular levels of information in a more responsive manner has both pandemic and post-pandemic benefits for BJBS WPL. References Brooks, R., & Youngson, P. L. (2016). Undergraduate work placements: an analysis of the effects on career progression. Studies in Higher Education, 41(9), 1563-1578. Jackson, D., & Collings, D. (2018). The influence of work-integrated learning and paid work during studies on graduate employment and underemployment. Higher Education, 76(3), 403-425. Margaryan, S., Saniter, N., Schumann, M., & Siedler, T. (2019). Do Internships Pay Off? The Effects of Student Internships on Earnings. O’Donovan, D. (2018). Bilateral benefits: Student experiences of work-based learning during work placement. Industry and higher education, 0950422218761273. 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.


Conference2020 Charles Sturt EdX Learning and Teaching Conference
Abbreviated titleMaintaining wellbeing through uncertainty: building resilience
OtherWe have an exciting variety of sessions for you this year. The program for each day is available below in 2 formats:

i) Interactive Web Version – This link will open up the full program in a new browser tab, with all session details hyperlinked and all zoom meeting links available via the same interface.

ii) 3 separate printable, downloadable (.pdf) files for days 1, 2 and 3.
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