Institute on Education and the Economy


Pedagogical Strategies for Work-Based Learning
(Working Paper No. 12, April 1999)

Katherine Hughes and David Moore

In recent years, researchers and educators have been paying increasing attention to work-based learning as a promising educational strategy. In the school-to-work literature, many lists of the potential purposes or benefits of work-based learning to students can be found. However, despite increased enthusiasm over work-based learning and anecdotal evidence supporting it, there have been few empirical studies that test whether and how students are actually benefiting. Further, while many programs are having success in inducing employers to offer work-based learning placements, it is probably overly optimistic to require employers to undergo training and to expect them to act as teachers. Yet there are ways for school personnel to examine workplaces, oversee internships, and create classroom-based assignments and activities, so that work-based learning is educational. In this paper, we give guidance as to how to achieve quality internships, by laying out a framework through which an educator might analyze the situated pedagogy of a particular work context, and describing methods used in schools to ensure that students' work experiences yield learning. That is, we will explore the different ways work-based learning is organized at the workplace, and how it can be enhanced in the classroom.

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