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Work-based Learning

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Work-Based learning is designed to advance the achievement of student’s postsecondary, career and employment goals through planned, structured learning experiences where they can develop and apply academic, technical, and essential skills.

CCRI’s Title III grant emphasizes the importance of work-based learning for our students in creating Rhode Island’s workforce. We must define how we conceptualize work-based learning at CCRI. Borrowing from the Governor’s Workforce Board (GWB) definition of work-based learning from 2018, this definition will be used as a guide for including and promoting work-based learning throughout CCRI courses and programs.

Work-Based learning is a “planned, structured learning experience that provides [students] with real-life or simulated work experiences where they can develop and apply academic, technical, and essential skills; and contributes to the achievement of their postsecondary and employment goal(s).”[1] 

While not intended as exhaustive, this list contains some of the most common ways work-based learning can be incorporated. New, creative methods are welcome, and should always be considered.

Examples of work-based learning experiences:

  • Internships: a student acts as a trainee in an organization to gain experience, closely supervised by the employer. Can be paid or unpaid. Internships are generally at least 120 hours long.
  • Part-time or full-time jobs: Paid positions related to their field of study where students apply their academic knowledge and gain hands-on experience. This is often connected to college work through formal reflection, or a discussion seminar.
  • Clinical rotations and Practicums: Often in health fields, students have hands-on experiences while supervised by a professional.
  • Industry projects: A project on any topic or issue facing an organization, done in coordination with and with guidance from the organization. This can be an individual or group project. Students can act as “consultants” on a particular problem or issue facing an organization.
  • Shadowing: Students follow a professional in the industry “on the job” for a set period to learn about the job and industry; often in conjunction with Q&A sessions and reflective writing.
  • Case studies with businesses: Industry professionals working with a class on a real-life situation the business faced, how it was solved, and how students would approach it.
  • Visits and tours of businesses: Behind-the-scenes tours of organizations related to the field of study, often in conjunction with Q&A sessions and reflective writing.
  • Service learning: Students completing community service with an organization, paired with reflective writing on the connections between their experience and the academic goals of the student.
  • Apprenticeship: Highly-formal job training experience that involves studying with a master of the trade on the job.
  • Performances: Students participating in performances and productions, demonstrating skills necessary to their field learned in class.



Furthermore, the GWB recommends that those “engaged in work-based learning design and implement activities which are safe, follow all State and Federal labor laws, allow students to earn academic credit and/or wages (if possible), and meet standards for quality outlined.” [2]

  • Rigorous: The experience should allow students to gain measurable skills – either soft skills or technical skills.
  • Relevant: Connected to the student’s course of study.
  • Reflective: Students should analyze their experience and connect it to their academic work as well as future career goals.
  • Interactive: Allows students the opportunity to meet and network with industry professionals.
  • Integrated: Connected to the student’s academic curriculum.

Work Based Learning experiences will allow students the opportunity to develop the following soft skills, as determined by the GWB definition:

  • Collaboration and teamwork: Works effectively within and contribute to teams, learns from and works collaboratively with others, shows adaptiveness and flexibility, and effectively negotiates conflict.
  • Communication: Listens actively and articulates and presents information clearly and effectively in written, visual, and verbal forms.
  • Critical thinking and problem solving: Distills and analyzes information, makes judgements based on evidence, and uses data and information to solve problems.
  • Initiative and self-management: Works independently as needed, monitors and prioritizes his/her own time and tasks, takes initiative to solve problems as appropriate, and employs persistence to take tasks to completion.
  • Professionalism: Follows and can articulate workplace norms such as punctuality, appropriate workplace communication and interactions, and professional dress.



[1] Governor’s Workforce Board, “Defining Work-based Learning Activities and Standards.” January 18, 2018

[2] GWB Definition