What makes a good work-based learning student experience?
1. Good partnership working
Close working with the partner (whether this is an employer; a representative body or the student/s themselves) ensures that the curriculum maintains its relevance. Good partnership working also facilitates the development of appropriate support structures for workplace mentors/tutors. Many programmes which utilise employers as assessors provide formal training and ongoing support.
2. Making appropriate use of external reference points (NOS, SSC)
Curricula can be based on these reference points, or they can be used to inform curricula. Either way, this ensures that student learning is relevant and transferable.
3. The use of learning contracts
Recognising what students know already helps to build their confidence when engaging with HE. A learning contract is a short written agreement between students and supervisors that outlines:

  • what the student will learn
  • how the learning will be accomplished
  • how the learning will be assessed.
4. Putting the learner in the driving seat
Providing a range of ways in which the student can achieve the learning outcomes to suit their particular working context. Students on a programme may be situated in very different workplaces so it is important that learning outcomes are expressed so that they can be demonstrated in a variety of ways. For example, an outcome such as ‘Demonstrate selected abilities, skills and professional standards in complex situations’ enables students working in a range of settings to demonstrate how they have achieved that outcome. It also encourages students to be more innovative about how they apply their knowledge to specific contexts.
5. Blended learning
Providing a range of ways for the student to access learning and support. Tutor support and access to mentors/University staff is a vital factor as it is likely that students’ learning environments will differ. It is therefore important to provide relatively easy alternative means of access for students, for example using an e-portfolio to enhance face-to-face interactions.
6. Relevant assessment undertaken ‘just in time’
Undertaking learning which can be immediately applied to the workplace.
7. Creating a learning community
Peer support is recognised as an important element of the student experience. Work-based learning awards need to consider different ways students can contact and learn from each other.