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Discipline predicts Work Integrated Learning (WIL) practice in Science courses


Academic year: 2023

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Universities are responding to this need in science (and other disciplines) by incorporating work-integrated learning (WIL) into the curriculum (Universities of Australia describe WIL as approaches and strategies that integrate theory with work practice within a purpose-designed curriculum (p. 9) Incorporating these activities into the curriculum helps students connect their education to their future. The first is to develop a picture of the incidence and types of WIL offered across all Faculty of Science courses in a large research-intensive university (throughout this paper the term 'course' is used to refer to a single unit of study or course).

Specifically, this study uses the discipline lens to examine whether there is a difference in the amount, type, and intent of WIL offered to the students. To what extent does WIL activities take place in the courses of the Faculty of Science at the University of Queensland (UQ). All pedagogies were considered equivalent in the final calculation of the survey score.

Details of studies on incomplete and missing data, response bias and regression approaches are provided in Appendix 2. The discussion of the results is structured around the research questions which are:. For example, the score of 119 for the first row in the Agriculture and Food Science column is a total for all Objective 1 Show & Tell Pedagogy used in all Agriculture and Food Science courses. Some correlations are weaker than others, but overall there is general consistency across disciplines in the distribution of WIL Activity scores.

The similarities observed in the pairwise regression results are consistent with the results of the WIL score (Figure 1).

Table 1: The Possible Objectives of Delivering WIL in Courses  (Edwards et al., 2015)
Table 1: The Possible Objectives of Delivering WIL in Courses (Edwards et al., 2015)


Although published reports (Radloff &Coates, 2010; Edwards et al., 2015; Universities Australia, 2017) indicate that students in some disciplines are offered more placements and project WIL, this is the first time that offers of all types of WIL have been examined and linked to scientific discipline. This lack of interest in the practical aspects of getting a job (both from staff and students) may help to explain why there is generally less WILL in some disciplines. It does not prove causation or a direct relationship between the inclusion of WIL and graduate employment.

However, it may be that the culture of providing WIL (and of normalizing the idea of ​​working in a professional role after graduation) encourages students on Veterinary, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences programs to seek employment immediately after their undergraduate degree. Although the volume of WIL varies from one discipline to another, the scope and type of WIL provided in the courses studied is similar. In particular, the focus was on understanding the purpose and type of WIL incorporated into curricula.

However, the data paints a picture of WIL practice that is multifaceted and very attentive to helping students understand how their college education relates to work. However, when all possible pedagogies are considered, almost all responding courses in the study (92%) contain some form of WILL; an average of 15 to 16 WIL pedagogies are used per course. When called to check their intentions, some reported that their course had "no WIL," based on their understanding of WILL.

As noted earlier, the double-ended questions in the survey may also cause underreporting of WIL. This study shows that the courses in the Faculty of Natural Sciences incorporate a diverse set of approaches to WIL, but it has also identified disciplines in which future WIL development can be prioritised. In the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Veterinary Medicine offers high amounts of WILL in all its forms.

However, there is room to increase all forms of WIL provision for students in the disciplines of mathematics and physics, chemistry and molecular life science, biology and marine science and biomedicine. One way to build value in all types of WIL is to increase the amount of reflection that students do. We thank the academic staff of the UQ Faculty of Science for their generosity in answering the survey.

Questions In your course you might

Please select all the activities that are part of your course (Yes/No radio buttons provided). The curriculum includes workplace-specific examples and guest lecturers who articulate the connection between curriculum and industry (T). Students are given explicit examples in lectures and course notes of how the skills they develop relate to the workplace (T).

There is an explicit focus on why concepts, skills and information in the course are important for the workplace and how they can be used in the workplace (S). Students go on field trips structured around targeted activities - these focus on how skills and knowledge apply to the workplace/occupation (E). Students engage in inquiry-based learning with explicit activities that link skills and knowledge to the workplace/occupation (E).

Students complete independent case studies and work-related scenarios with problems to be solved using the skills and knowledge acquired in the course (P). Students work as active members of university problem-solving teams in the workplace, including reflection and debriefing (placement outside the university) (O). Students complete industry-based or work-based projects that apply subject-specific skills and expertise and are linked to the curriculum (practice outside .university) (O).


Students reflect on what it means to work as a graduate/professional in a particular industry including academia (E). Students complete self-directed case studies/scenarios using skill sets and knowledge across platforms that span different occupations in the workplace (P).



There are extensive internships throughout the course with scaffolded opportunities to try new things and understand the consequences of decisions (location outside the university) (O). Students participate in year-long projects with a high degree of student autonomy and responsibility (location outside the university) (O).



Courses for undergraduate students offered at UQ through a School of the Faculty of Science, in the year July 2016 to July 2017. Most courses are included in a group that describes the focus of teaching in the school administering the course. The intercept is the predicted value (estimate) of the base case (ie, the mean for MPS).

A variable was considered to contribute significantly if the adjusted p value (p-BH) of Benjamini and Hochberg (1995) is less than 0.05. The data set for the correlation analysis consisted of: i) an aggregation of WIL scores by question (pedagogy) as observations; and ii) each discipline as a feature (see an example data representation in Table S2). To maintain nuance in the analysis, data at the level of individual pedagogy questions were used. Test the hypothesis that the course learner is independent of year level in terms of WIL score at the 0.05 significance level.

As with discipline, much of the skewness may come from a small number of outliters. We want to know whether there are significant differences between study options in the average enrollments in the. Retrieve and store SSE for different values ​​of k in the data frame within_sse[k-1, 2]

In the model above, the Residual Deviance is three times the degrees of freedom. The model coefficients represent the log of the mean value of the variable (V) minus the log of the mean value of the reference variable (R) (in this case the intercept). If multicollinearity is found in the data, centering the data (that is, subtracting the mean of the variable from each score) can help solve the problem.

Fourth, linear regression analysis requires that there be little or no autocorrelation in the data. Selling (i.e. explicit focus on why concepts, skills and information are important to the workplace and how they can be applied in the workplace); and. O2P1: Self-directed case studies and scenarios using skills and knowledge across platforms involving different occupations in the workplace O2P2: Simulations of complex problems requiring multiple &.

Each pedagogy has a code identifying the Target Group and Activity Group as well as the number in the pedagogy list (e.g. Code O1T1 indicates the pedagogy as the first Show & Tell” Activity in the Objective 1 group; code O5P3 indicates the pedagogy as the third "Practice" activity in the Objective 5 group.

Table S1: The WIL Objectives, Activities, and Pedagogies Matrix used to develop the Survey (modified from Edwards et al., 2015)
Table S1: The WIL Objectives, Activities, and Pedagogies Matrix used to develop the Survey (modified from Edwards et al., 2015)


Table 1: The Possible Objectives of Delivering WIL in Courses  (Edwards et al., 2015)
Table 3: The Percentage of Courses Adopting WIL by Activity Group  Activity Group  Adoption Rate (%)  Show & Tell  87
Figure 1: The Mean and Error Margin of WIL Scores (a-f): WIL Total and Activities by  Discipline
Figure 3: A Scatterplot Matrix of Discipline Areas by Pedagogy Score. The diagonal panels in the  plot show the discipline area label and a box plot of the distribution of the pedagogy scores for the discipline  area


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In your answers you will be assessed on how well you: ■ demonstrate knowledge and understanding relevant to the question ■ communicate ideas and information using relevant examples