What's in it for you?

Today's employers need talent with practical experience and future-relevant skills. Establishing Work-Integrated Learning opportunities in your workplace will bring you a variety of advantages. From a fresh pair of eyes, to different skill sets and direct access into top talent pipelines, you'll connect with students bringing diverse experiences and knowledge to your organization. 

Beyond technical skills, employers are often interested in assessing a student’s social and emotional skills. Instead of relying exclusively on rating scales to assess critical thinking, communication, or other in-demand social and emotional skills, consider using evidence-based assessment frameworks. An international review of social and emotional skill assessment frameworks has identified the following widely used and accepted psychometric measurement tools:

  • Emotional and social competency inventory (ESCI)
  • Emotional quotient inventory (EQ-I)
  • Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT)

For more information on these tools, review the assessment resources section of our strategies document.

It depends on your relationship with the student and how much you achieve in each meeting. Workplace supervisors typically check-in with students once a day, though some find it easier to check in once a week and some meet multiple times per day. Regardless of how often you check in, ensure you give yourself the time to build trust and open lines of communication with students undertaking a placement at your organization.

  • Integrate student self-assessment when appraising performance: Student self-assessments will help ensure that the student feels they have a role to play in the assessment process and provides the employer with a well-rounded perspective of the student’s performance. This involves requesting students to conduct an either written or oral self-evaluation that an employer can review and verify as is appropriate.
  • Integrate feedback from multiple sources: To ensure evaluations of student performance is fair, inclusive, and comprehensive, supervisors are advised to gather the insights of others who have interacted with the student, including employees, managers, and student peers.
  • Conduct regular check-ins: Check-ins during the placement are important for ensuring that students remain on-track and engaged. Frequent check-ins are all the more necessary for remote or e-WIL opportunities that many employers have pivoted to as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic or otherwise.

Learning outcomes should provide detail on what students will achieve, value and/or know by the end of their placement. When developing learning outcomes with students and academic supervisors, keep the following in mind:

  • Learning audience: Who are the learners? What are their learning needs and career goals?
  • Learned behaviors: What will students be able to do at the end of a placement? What will they know about your industry, program of study, and/or career?
  • Context for learning: Where will the learning take place at your organization? What context should be kept in mind when describing learning outcomes?
  • Degree: Realistically, with consideration for the type and length of the WIL placement, how much will students be able to achieve?

Depending on the type of WIL student you are supervising, you may need to consult more-or-less with post-secondary programs and/or provincial/territorial training authorities:

  • If you are supervising post-secondary students undertaking a structured work experience, you should discuss program level learning outcomes and requirements with the student’s academic supervisor.
  • If you are supervising apprentices undertaking on-the-job training, you should review program requirements, tasks, and related learning outcomes for the apprentices under your supervision. You can find out more information about training standards by contacting your provincial/ territorial apprenticeship authority.

The role of the workplace supervisor varies significantly across types of WIL — supervisors of apprentices may have more formalized responsibilities than supervisors of interns, for example. In general, a workplace supervisor is responsible for working alongside the academic supervisor and the student to negotiate the student’s workplan and duties. They typically help with onboarding, while ensuring the student has access to required technical equipment, as well as ongoing supervision and mentorship throughout the placement to contribute to an overall evaluation of the student’s performance.

Assessment in the context of work-integrated learning (WIL) is the process of evaluating student competencies within a professional environment. Assessment is a fundamental part of WIL to ensure students apply academic learning and gain the skills they require to be work-ready.

  • The managing of expectations goes two ways: both the mentor and the mentee should know what to expect from the experience, and from each other.
  • This includes clarity around desired objectives, and the establishment of a plan to meet those objectives, including how progress will be tracked and success will be evaluated.
  • Expectations on the part of the academic and workplace supervisors should also be clarified before the student arrives. Who is responsible for what and when?
  • The sooner these discussions take place, the better. In other words, these conversations should happen at the beginning of a WIL experience.
  • Poor mentorship is worse than no mentorship. Not everyone is cut out to be a mentor. Identify those who have strong human skills (i.e. social and emotional skills), and provide them with the resources they need to be effective.
  • Recognize the success of mentors and reward it accordingly.