Students Staff

11 March 2016

New Work-Based Learning resources

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — rcwind @ 11.55 am

Dr Steve McMellor, Learning and Development Adviser, discusses UoE’s commitment to Work-Based Learning and updates us on some exciting new resources to support WBL at Essex

What is Work-Based Learning at Essex?

Work-Based Learning (WBL) is defined at Essex as learning outside the classroom – through placements, visits or projects for an employer or client – that is also connected to the curriculum. It is increasingly becoming an essential part of modern higher education. It has long been recognised that both students and the institutions at which they study benefit from these new forms of practice-oriented learning at the workplace: increased collaboration with industry and the public sector, more relevant degree schemes, better skilled students with clear career outlooks and higher employability.

WBL and Enhancing the Student Experience

WBL should have clear relevance to the learning outcomes of students’ academic programmes, be appropriate to the level of study, and promote a deeper engagement with their disciplines (through using and reflecting on the subject knowledge and/or transferable skills). It should be owned by students, valued and promoted by academic departments, and form part of an active engagement with external organisations and communities. WBL is a shared responsibility. It should enrich the student experience and broaden individual students’ career horizons. It should also make students more confident in their abilities, and make them more ambitious in their aspirations. WBL should be open to all students, and not just a few. WBL should be beneficial to the organisation offering the opportunities as well as the student and the University.

The University of Essex’s Commitment to WBL

The University of Essex’s Education strategy aims to ensure that “all students have the opportunity to undertake community/work-based learning and to develop a framework that allows credit/recognition for student employment or community/work-based placement”. The University aspires to achieving 10% of UG students undertaking a substantial period of WBL as part of their degree by 2019, and for WBL to be an increasing feature of PGT provision.

The Work-Based Learning Hub at Essex

To support this aspiration, the Work-Based Learning Hub has been developed to support staff in considering the availability of WBL to their students through their own modules and courses. The WBL Hub has been developed in collaboration between the Employability and Careers Centre and Learning and Development and consists of two parts: (i) The Knowledge Bank and (ii) The Work-Based Learning Toolkit.

The Knowledge Bank

The Knowledge Bank provides a repository of information resources, documents and academic articles on Work-Based Learning. It is directed at academic staff wishing to investigate, create and promote new WBL and work placement opportunities for their students. It is also a tool for staff involved with the provision and administration of placements to share resources and ideas, as well as providing access to information across faculties.

The Knowledge Bank covers a range of WBL definitions, good practice guides, examples of successful placements, materials for students, academics and employers, examples from other universities and links to pedagogic literature and web-links; all really valuable resources if you wish to explore WBL in more depth.

The Work-Based Learning Toolkit provides a suite of summary information about Work-Based Learning at Essex. We introduce three models for WBL at the University of Essex, along with details of what you need to do to establish them on your courses. There is information on Health & Safety issues and further guidance links and FAQs to help you decide which type of WBL is best for your students and, most importantly, what you need to do to make it happen.EE-Essex Way

There are a number of tools and downloads that will help with your Curriculum Review work and aid your on-going reflections on the current level of employer engagement that your courses offer.

The WBL opportunities which we have introduced are divided into full placement years; SK701, the E&CC generic placement year module; and a wide range of short-term projects and collaborative research placements.

Existing provision of the range of different types of WBL across all faculties is described in a number of short videos.

There is an extensive FAQs section that covers a wide range of questions in relation to the processes and procedures for developing WBL opportunities for your own students, as well as examples of paperwork.

How to Access Your New Resources…

The Work-Based Learning resources can be found by searching for ‘WBL Toolkit’ or ‘Knowledge Bank’ on Moodle or directly at

For further information and support in developing WBL opportunities please contact your relevant Faculty Placements team;

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