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L&S Criteria for the Workplace Experience Course Attribute

It is well established that skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and oral and written communications developed during a liberal arts education prepare students for success in the workplace and are highly valued by employers.*  As such, the Workplace Experience Attribute is not meant to designate undergraduate courses that are “workplace-relevant” or “relevant to work” and distinguish such courses that do not seem relevant to work, but rather, this course attribute is used to flag particular courses (such as internships and practica) where students apply theories and concepts from the classroom in a professional workplace setting. These courses combine significant workplace experience with academic work. They have learning objectives that place intentional and significant focus on student learning, have opportunities for reflection on professional and personal growth, are taught by a qualified instructor, and meet the campus minimum criteria for the attribute.  

Courses with the designation have both UW qualified instructors and “on-site workplace supervisor” (who are different people), and the “classroom” and “workplace” are different learning sites. In most cases, the workplace is off-campus; however, on-campus sites are allowable if the internship placement is structured to enforce the criteria below.

L&S Curriculum Committee review of courses requesting the Workplace Experience attribute
The Workplace Experience attribute is placed at the catalog level of the course, so each section offered must always meet the criteria. Departments may request the attribute for their courses via the course proposal system. When reviewing requests for a group instruction course to have the attribute, L&S Curriculum Committee members expect to see evidence of components described above in the syllabus; for independent study courses they will expect to see evidence in a template study plan that students and instructor complete and keep on file regarding the agreed upon work and instruction of the course.  

Operational criteria:
  • Undergraduate-level only
  • For-credit course where the  instructional contact with the UW instructor is compliant with Campus Credit Hour Policy
  • Qualified instructor with UW-Madison instructional appointment who is responsible for student learning and evaluation (grading)
  • Learning objectives that intentionally and significantly connect course content (knowledge, skills, abilities) with application of that learning in the workplace
  • Students are substantively engaged at (and spend significant time in) a workplace setting (usually, but not exclusively, off-campus), working with an on-site supervisor who is responsible for evaluating workplace performance
  • All instances of the course will carry designation:
    • If group instruction, the syllabus will establish how course content relates to workplace.
    •  If directed study, policy requiring  student and instructor to develop a study plan early in the term apply; for courses bearing this attribute a template plan with learning objectives that connect course content to the workplace should be provided. 
  • Workplace experience is concurrent with course enrollment

*According to a recent AACU employer survey, most employers agree that “A demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than [a candidate’s] undergraduate major.” Employers wish colleges placed more emphasis on “critical thinking, complex problem-solving, written and oral communication, and applied knowledge in real world settings.” Additionally, the National Association of Colleges and Employers have identified seven competencies that are associated with career readiness for college graduates. These are professionalism and work ethic, critical thinking and problem solving, oral written and communications, teamwork and collaboration, information technology application, leadership and career management. The liberal arts education provided in L&S embodies all of these skills that students need to be successful in the workplace, and in the world.

Keywords:internship, practicum, practica, work, high impact practice, professional, career   Doc ID:73127
Owner:Kimbrin C.Group:College of Letters & Science
Created:2017-05-05 09:38 CSTUpdated:2017-05-05 09:40 CST
Sites:College of Letters & Science
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