Learning and leading: An innovative approach towards maximising the effectiveness of work- integrated learning at Flinders University


  • Ceri Macleod Centre for University Teaching, Flinders University
  • Linda Sweet Clinical Education, Flinders University Rural Clinical School
  • Angele Cavaye Flinders Business School, Flinders University
  • Chris Fanning Department of Tourism, Flinders University
  • Damien Mills Flinders Business School, Flinders University
  • John Oliphant Department of Social Work and Social Planning, Flinders University


Flinders University recently contributed to a funded Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) Fellowship led by Professor Stephen Billett, Griffith University, as one of six institutions from the Innovative Research Universities (IRU) network. The project, entitled ‘Curriculum and pedagogic bases for effectively integrating practice based experiences within higher education’, required each participating university to consider a number of work-integrated learning (WIL) practices. Flinders identified four discipline areas: Business; Medicine; Social Work; and Tourism, with representatives of each of these being tasked with researching how their different practice-based initiatives could be improved from pedagogic and epistemological perspectives. The results of this analysis, whilst contributing to the Fellowship project, also provided an invaluable insight into WIL practices across the four disciplines at the University.

Whilst the nature and scope of these studies varied considerably, the key findings complement each other and reflect the broader strategic approach taken by the University in its aim to maximise student participation in, and the effectiveness of, WIL at Flinders. The findings can be summarised as follows:

  • Preparation is essential prior to the commencement of WIL

  • Students need to be adequately supported whilst on placement

  • Reflection plays a critical role in maximising learning potential

  • WIL is highly valued by students

  • Non-placement WIL can be just as effective as placements

  • The particular requirements of international students need to recognised and met

  • Successful delivery of WIL is enhanced by a common understanding amongst all

    University staff involved in its development and delivery

  • WIL activities must be adequately resourced by the University

This paper presents a summary of the outcomes of the studies undertaken within each of the four teaching areas, and considers how these findings can contribute to the development of an innovative, cross-faculty approach to maximising the effectiveness of WIL. The paper then moves on to look at the implications of this approach, focusing on key concepts such as preparation, implementation, reflection, and the implications on systems of management and resourcing. 


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