A non-placement authentic simulated work integrated learning project for final year students

Margaret C. Jollands


Work experience is generally considered to be the best way to develop employability, but currently there are too few work placements to meet demand of engineering graduates. Non-placement authentic work integrated learning (WIL) is an alternative but there is very little research to show if learning outcomes are equivalent to real work experience. This paper describes an innovative approach to WIL for final year chemical engineering students. The perceptions of students who have undertaken a work placement are compared with those who participated in an on-campus authentic simulated work placement.

The WIL module used a real project from a local STEM company, with rich complex resources. Students were co-supervised by the author and an engineer from the company on the project. The WIL module participants also participated in a variety of bespoke workshops targeted at critical skills. Initially the WIL students rated themselves significantly lower on a work readiness, but the deficit was overcome after completing the WIL module.

This paper suggests that an authentic simulated WIL project is as effective as work experience in increasing students’ confidence in their work readiness. Further, it discusses the impact on perceptions of work readiness of work experience students who reflected on work issues during their placement.


WIL, employability, journal

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