Course Attribute for Workplace Experience
Workplace experience can be a valuable way to help undergraduate students take the theories and concepts learned in the classroom and apply them in professional settings. Currently these experiences are identified and identifiable on an ad hoc basis. Establishing a “Workplace Experience” attribute for undergraduate courses will make it easier for students to identify courses that structure meaningful workplace experiences to enhance their education. It will provide for more consistent messaging by faculty, advisors, deans’ offices, and other academic administrators about the value of and expectations for workplace experiences. It will also allow the University to better meet demands for evaluating, tracking, and reporting on these kinds of experiences.
The purpose of this proposal is to outline the requirements of a course attribute associated with for-credit courses in which students are fully immersed in a workplace experience that has a linkage to an academic program. The goals of this new attribute is to both document existing workplace experiences and to provide guidance for such experiences that are developed in the future.
This attribute policy sets a common minimum criteria as a baseline. There is no intention to define and regulate all workplace experience opportunities and some schools/colleges may choose to set additional guidelines.
The term “workplace experience” is meant to be inclusive and descriptive, encompassing internships, clinical work, cooperatives, practica, student teaching, and other credit-bearing experiences based on an immersive workplace experience that is linked to an academic program.
The National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE) definition of internships (or, more broadly, workplace experiences) was used in the development of this proposal:
A form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional [workplace] setting. Internships [and other immersive workplace experiences] give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths; and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent. http://www.naceweb.org/internships/
• The Workplace Attribute is attached only to for-credit courses at the undergraduate level (numbered <699) that give academic credit for the workplace experience. Consequently, the workplace experience is linked to learning in an academic program. Courses must include intentional learning objectives related to the experience.
• Reflection on the workplace experience (internship, co-op, student teaching, etc.) is a required course component. Students must demonstrate an ability to reflect on, evaluate, and improve their performance. Students must be able to link their current and previous academic work with the activities in the workplace experience.
• Both an on-site workplace supervisor and faculty/instructional academic staff member who serves as the course instructor are identified.
o The on-site supervisor will be provided with the course learning goals, and willing to support the student’s learning. They are responsible for assessing the student’s workplace performance and will provide feedback to the course instructor.o The course instructor oversees the student’s learning experience. The instructor ensures that credit awarded is linked to instructional activity and to projects appropriate to the UW-Madison learning experience. The instructor is responsible for academic evaluation of student work and determines the appropriate grade. These instructor must have a UW-Madison instructional appointment and their responsibilities are not to be delegated to others.
• The format of instruction must be established for the course. The course will either have some group instruction and a syllabus will be used, or if there is not a syllabus, students are responsible for preparing a written study plan, in collaboration and agreement with the instructor, consistent with the responsibilities of the instructor. The study plan will include expectations for learning and student work, the time and place for regular meetings, the number of credits to be earned, and any other issues related to the learning experience. Both the student and the instructor keep a copy of the agreement as important reference document.
• Credit and workplace experience must be simultaneous. Students are not permitted to obtain credit for previous workplace experiences.
Evidence of the criteria listed above must be included and explained in any proposal for a course requesting or having this attribute.
The attribute can be used in Course Guide and other systems that may be used for the purpose of searching for and identifying specific courses. This will make identification of workplace experience courses easy for students and advisors.
Creating a common identifier for workplace experience courses will aid in the efficient and consistent reporting of workplace experience.
While addressing the criteria above does not necessarily mean that a proposed workplace experience meets all of the conditions required to be an approved course, it does provide a framework that can be used to design a quality workplace experience course that will be useful when designing and proposing courses.
By creating an easy, defined way of identifying workplace experience courses, adding a course attribute to a course specifically designed for workplace experience will replace the use of directed/independent study courses for this type of activity.
A course attribute of WORK “Workplace experience” and an attribute value of EXPR “workplace experience course” will be created in SIS and attached to all courses that meet the requirements above and are approved for the attribute through the course approval process.
A set of best practices will be developed by schools and colleges offering courses with the workplace experience attribute. The best practices document will provide additional information about standards and expectations specific to the types of experiences offered by that unit.
The Course Guide and Class Search will be updated to allow users to search for courses that have the workplace experience designation. Steps will also be taken to have the attribute made available along with other course attributes in the campus data warehouse.
Requesting the course attribute will be made a part of the course proposal form for use with new and course change proposals. The workflow will include the usual opportunities for approval by the subject owner, their school or college and the University Curriculum Committee. The schools and colleges may wish to involve their career services unit(s) in the review of courses with the workplace experience attribute and incorporate aligning with their best practices as part of approval. At the campus level the UCC will be concerned with the reviewing proposals based on the minimum criteria stated above.
School/College Best Practices
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
School of Human Ecology
School of Nursing
School of Business
School of Education