Research Committee Publications and Presentations

IJWIL Special Canadian Edition

  • CEWIL is proud to have sponsored a Canadian Special Issue of the International Journal of Work-Integrated Learning (IJWIL) focusing on the research and practice of WIL in Canada which was released in the summer of 2021.
  • CEWIL Canada alongside University of Waterloo’s Work-Learn Institute were pleased to sponsor the publication of “The practice and research of cooperative education and work-integrated learning in the Canadian context”. Lead Editors, Dr. Judene Pretti and Dr. Ashley Stirling, were instrumental in the development, creation, and dissemination of this special edition.
  • As the leader of quality WIL in Canada, CEWIL prides itself on using research-based evidence to inform its accreditation, quality standards, and best practices. Through many of the works presented in the Canadian special edition, we are pleased to see Canada continue to take its place as an innovator and leader in the field of WIL globally. Congratulations to all the authors who contributed to the work.
  • Please click here to view the issue.

eBook on WIL 

CEWIL is proud to be publishing its first eBook on The Practice of Co-op and Work-Integrated Learning in the Canadian Context, which is now available here!

2022 CEWIL Research Webinar Series 

    The CEWIL Research Series is a collection of presentations by WIL scholars across Canada. Over four webinars, the Series features eight research papers published in The Practice of Co-op and Work-Integrated Learning in the Canadian Context (2021) . The Series also begins and end with brief presentations on amplifying and engaging in WIL research.

    Research Series - Part 1

    Welcome - Advancing WIL Research
    Ashley Stirling, University of Toronto
    Work-integrated learning experience for public health students: A case study project in partnership with a community farm
    Apira Ragunathan, University of Toronto Scarborough
    Obidimma Ezezika, University of Toronto Scarborough
    This chapter describes a case study on work-integrated learning (WIL) in a public health undergraduate course, where students addressed a health issue in a “real-world” context. Students collaborated with a community partner to develop case study proposals that would target food insecurity. In this chapter, we describe the design and development of the course to integrate the WIL experience. Five key lessons were drawn; aligning learning outcomes with the aspirations of the community partner requires careful dialogue, a well-designed WIL experience enhances critical thinking skills and course enjoyment, WIL must not replace other course learning opportunities and outcomes, students may not value work-integrated learning experiences unless shown how it affects course performance, and WIL can provide students opportunity to create meaningful impact. We discuss the lessons and course implementation in light of Kolb’s experiential learning theoretical framework and provide a few considerations for course designers.
    Number of work experiences and student employability
    David Drewery, University of Waterloo
    Judene Pretti, University of Waterloo
    This study addresses a fundamental question underpinning the influence of work-integrated learning (WIL) on students’ employability: will participation in multiple WIL experiences lead to greater competency development and, in turn, greater employability? To address this question, we asked co-operative education (co-op) work supervisors (n = 778) to evaluate students’ competency development in terms of a lifelong learning mindset and employability in terms of their willingness to offer a position to their student in the future. The number of students’ WIL work experiences was also collected. Linear regression and mediation analyses showed that supervisors’ evaluations of students’ lifelong learning mindsets mediated a positive indirect association between the number of WIL work experiences and employability. The results suggest that coordinating multiple WIL work experiences may promote greater employability because of greater competency development.


    Research Series - Part 2

    WIL in the Ontario College Sector
    Sean Elliott, CEWIL Canada
    Kathleen Clarke, Wilfrid Laurier University
    Work-integrated learning (WIL) initiatives must be considered within the unique contexts in which they are located. While literature focused on WIL has focused on the Canadian university context, literature pertaining to the college sector is sparse. In this chapter, we provide an overview of findings stemming from a pilot study in which we completed a literature review, an examination of sector reports and ministry papers, and an environmental scan of institutional websites for six colleges in Ontario. Analysis revealed that there are differences across the college sector pertaining to how WIL is conceptualized and how these programs are delivered. However, findings also indicated there is a consistent, increased focused on WIL, evidence of mandatory WIL participation, and a growing focus on entrepreneurial/innovative WIL opportunities. Recommendations for future directions for practice and research are provided.

    Good WIL hunting: Addressing common barriers to engaging faculty in work-integrated learning
    Christine Arsenault, University of Toronto Scarborough
    David Fenton, University of Toronto
     In Canada, there has been encouragement at all levels of government to increase work-integrated learning (WIL) within post-secondary institutions. Understanding faculty-perceived barriers to expanding WIL has been a critical step to success. In 2017, The Department of Management at the University of Toronto Scarborough committed that all students would have a WIL experience prior to graduation, prompting an internal analysis on barriers to WIL. The insights derived from this exercise inspired the development of methodology that would help overcome barriers — a path that ultimately resulted in reaching the 100% WIL goal two years sooner. This chapter explores obstacles to faculty offering WIL including administrative load, relationship management, pedagogical differences, and lack of reward. The Acceleration Web and Project Accelerator management models were developed as novel solutions for supporting faculty in overcoming these challenges. The theories and models presented are considerations for increasing quality curricular WIL experiences at a research-intensive university.


    Research Series - Part 3

    Delivering undergraduate medical education on rural and remote practice: Commentary and preliminary findings
    Mariam Issa, University of Toronto
    Kyung Young Kim, University of Toronto
    Roxanne Wright, University of Toronto
    Laila Premji, University of Toronto
    Fok-Han Leung, University of Toronto
    Previous studies on rural medical education have identified three factors associated with medical students’ entry into rural medical practice to overcome physician shortage in rural and remote areas: rural upbringing, rural clinical training during undergraduate medical education, and targetedrural training at the postgraduate level. Despite these findings, however, delivering early andsustained exposure to rural medicine has become even more challenging in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and cancellation of in-person shadowing opportunities. To address this challenge, the use of videoconferencing technology to conduct virtual interviews is explored to provide medical students with the opportunity to learn about how healthcare is delivered in rural settings, skills and attitudes needed to practice rurally, and realities of living in these regions. Preliminary findings revealed that the virtual interview had little effect on students’ interest in practicing or training in rural or remote communities, but many agreed they enjoyed the learning opportunity.

    Bringing experience-based education together at our institutions: A focus on distinct outcomes, shared attributes and a coherent narrative
    Andrea Sator, Simon Fraser University
    Nancy Johnston, Simon Fraser University
    Institutions seek to meet demands for more work-integrated learning (WIL) and experience-based education (EE) options yet face confusion regarding “what” and “how much” they already offer. Offerings are de-centralized and not reported as discrete models. CEWIL provides some guidelines on WIL, however, many institutions need to determine what is ‘in their collective EE tent.’ The challenge of defining and determining how best to promote, support, monitor and report on this is daunting and sometimes divisive (Johnston & Sator, 2017). Building on existing quality frameworks, this chapter proposes a Purpose and Outcomes Driven approach (POD) that enables institutions to develop coherent narratives and shared understandings regarding their offerings in meaningful ways. The POD framework focuses on sharedquality attributes and unique outcomes across model types, helping link each model’s purpose to student, institutional, and other stakeholders’ outcomes and providing the ability to report on outcomes by their shared purpose.


    Research Series - Part 4

    Immersive community engaged education: More community engaged learning than work-integrated learning in The Practice of Co-op and Work-Integrated Learning in the Canadian Context
    Roger Strasser, University of Waikato (New Zealand) and Northern Ontario School of Medicine (Canada)
    Since the early 20th century, clinical education of health professions students has taken place in teaching hospitals. This may be seen as a long-standing example of WIL. In the 21st century, Canada is a leader in socially accountable education focused on responding to the health needs of the population. Immersive Community Engaged Education (ICEE) involves prolonged placements of students living and learning in a range of community and clinical settings. The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) which opened in 2005 developed its Distributed Community Engaged Learning (DCEL) model that features ICEE in various rural and Indigenous communities across Northern Ontario. This chapter presents the NOSM experience highlighting how ICEE benefits students, health professionals, health services and the wider community, including throughsuccessful recruitment and retention of health professionals. Beyond the usual work placement, active community participation with prolonged immersion justifies the description of ICEE as more CEL than WIL.

    CityStudio Abbotsford: A model for innovative work-integrated learning, civic engagement and professional development
    Larissa Horne, University of the Fraser Valley
    CityStudio Abbotsford is an innovative partnership model between the City of Abbotsford, British Columbia, and the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV). Licensed by the original CityStudio Vancouver organization in 2018, it has since become an integral part of the Work-Integrated and Experiential Learning offerings at UFV. The model engages student innovation and faculty expertise to propose solutions to civic challenges. This challenge-based learning model generates fruitful opportunities for experiencing real-world expectations and pressures of a workplace environment and community-building. It is a collaborative, non-placement Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) network that fosters civic engagement and stakeholder professional development, while impacting positive change. Through the collective effort and knowledge transfer between faculty, students, City staff, and community partners, the true value of CityStudio emerges. This chapter provides an overview of the rapid growth, iterative structure, and the civic and professional impact of CityStudio Abbotsford.

    Wrap-up - Advancing WIL Research
    Judene Pretti, University of Waterloo

    2020 CEWIL Research Webinar Series


    Volume 1 - October 8

    • Validation of a Talent Framework for Work-Integrated Learning Students, Dana Church 
    • Examining the “Work” in Work-Integrated Learning, Judene Pretti 

    Welcome - Advancing WIL Research
    Ashley Stirling, University of Toronto

    Validation of a Talent Framework for Work-Integrated Learning Students 
    Dana Church, University of Waterloo
    David Drewery, University of Waterloo
    T. Judene Pretti, University of Waterloo

    What talents will be most important for students to succeed in the future workplace? We reviewed the peer-reviewed literature, grey literature, and consulted work-integrated learning experts to construct a framework that would guide students, WIL practitioners, and employers in preparing students for what has been termed “Industry 4.0”: a labour market disrupted by artificial intelligence, automation, technology, and the “gig economy.” From our analysis we identified 12 key talents that could be categorized into three main groups. We then derived 49 behaviours that represent these 12 talents. To validate our framework, we surveyed over 1,000 employers who, in the past 12 months, had supervised a student in a co-operative education program. With a particular co-op student in mind, we asked survey participants to assess that student on their “work readiness” in terms of the 49 items that were derived from our talent framework. “Work readiness” refers to the degree to which someone is ready for an entry level role typical of a university graduate, and it was rated using a 5-point Likert scale. Survey participants were also asked to rate the student in terms of their overall performance during their co-op work term as well as the return-on-investment they felt they received in hiring the student. We found that six actions or “talents” seem most important for student success in the workplace: develop relevant knowledge, skills, and abilities; ask questions; manage own deadlines; do the work; cope with challenges; and manage emotions.

    Examining the “Work” in Work-Integrated Learning
    T. Judene Pretti, University of Waterloo

    Sustainable work-integrated learning partnerships are based on the existence of reciprocity. That is, employers will continue to participate in WIL programs if what they are gaining through their involvement outweighs the challenges or costs associated with their participation. The same could be argued for students participating in WIL programs. That is, in the case of optional programs, students will choose to participate in WIL if they feel that what they are gaining through the WIL experiences is worth whatever costs are associated (e.g. time and effort). The question, however, is how can the co-op experience be designed to enable both students and employers to benefit? Through a case study approach, involving interviews and surveys with students and workers within one organization, this research examined the ways in which students were helpful and not so helpful to their co-workers and supervisors, and on the flip side, the ways that supervisors and co-workers were helpful and not so helpful to the students. Based on a social exchange theory, the results of this research revealed a model for a co-op role which, for one organization, enabled them to maximize benefits for the organization and the students and minimize costs for the organization.

    Volume 2 – October 15, 2020

    • Work-Integrated Learning (WIL): A Qualitative Research Review of Student Learning after Placements, Kelsey Currie
    • An Examination of the Impact of Structured Learning Support on Students’ Professional Development through Part-Time On-campus Employment, Libby West & Ashley Stirling

    Work-Integrated Learning (WIL): A Qualitative Research Review of Student Learning after Placements

    Kelsey Currie, Fanshawe College

    Over 2/3 of post-secondary students engage in some form of Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) in Ontario with the number expected to rise as the value of WIL continues to be promoted (Peters, Sattler, & Kelland, 2014). Research shows that students are guided through WIL with pre-employment training programs, check-ins during WIL, and reflection after WIL; however, the literature does not describe methods for teachers to assist students with the transfer of their learning from a WIL experience back into the classroom. This study interviewed six faculty members at Fanshawe College to discover their methods of bringing WIL experiences into their classrooms during and after students returned from a WIL experience. This research shows that WIL is meeting the goals and objectives expected by faculty and that curriculum is designed to assist them with the transfer of learning into the classroom; faculty continue to use their facilitation skills to make richer and more reflective experiences for students when they return to the classroom. The study also found teachers are acting as mentors to students who are returning from WIL experiences.

    An Examination of the Impact of Structured Learning Support on Students’ Professional Development through Part-Time 

    Libby Whittington-West, University of Toronto
    Ashley Stirling, University of Toronto

    While there are growing pressures to expand Work Integrated Learning (WIL) opportunities for postsecondary students, the increased pressure for quantity of experiences does not consider what resources may be required to both make these opportunities available while also ensuring the quality of the experience. Co-operative education is a strong example of work-integrated learning with clearly defined requirements to ensure student learning is at the center of the experience (CEWIL, 2018). Limited research, however, exists on the benefits and facilitators of student success in alternative forms of student employment, specifically facilitators of educational quality in part-time on-campus student employment. The purpose of this study was to explore the benefits of student participation in a University Work Study program and the impact of structured learning support on student professional development. A survey of 716 Work Study students showed that students whose supervisor had them set learning goals, conducted a mid-point check-in and a final reflection of their learning goals, on average, scored significantly higher on a series of positive professional-development related statements compared to students who did not receive the learning supports. Applied recommendations will be proposed along with questions for future research.

    Meeting the Future Needs of WIL Students: Learning from Professional Experience

    Suniti Bandaranaike, James Cook University, Australia
    Elsa Patricia Orozco Quijano, Laurentian University

    Professional experience is a field increasingly defined by institutionally prescribed practices and outcomes. This research is based on the premise that experiences, attitudes, and perceptions among current and past professionals can be used in WIL pedagogy to guide students in becoming skilled future practitioners. The study focuses on a strategic methodology, backward mapping, to analyse professional experiences with the objective of directing WIL pedagogy to meet future industry requirements more precisely. An online survey was conducted via the major Canadian mining industries targeting current and retired mining professionals. These professionals are categorised as Engineers, Environmental Scientists, Managers and Tradespersons. Their perceptions and attitudes are analysed with reference to specific skill competencies in the mining industry, broadly categorised as Initiative, Leadership, Lifelong Learning, Management, Critical Thinking, Communication, and Cultural Awareness. The resulting commonalities and divergences, strengths and limitations, within and between occupational categories and work skill competencies foreshadow directions to follow in future WIL pedagogy. Overall, while Leadership and Initiative competencies are well comprehended and practiced, Lifelong Learning and Cultural Awareness show lesser understanding. The value of this study lies in incorporating these observed variations in re-designing and improving WIL pedagogy and meeting the future needs of the mining industry.

    Volume 3 – October 22, 2020

    • Towards an Assessment Model of the Impact of International Work Terms on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Shabnam (Shay) Ivkovic, Norah McRae, & Dana Church
    • E2 pedagogy: A call to re-center: Being at the heart of the learning experience, Jean Bibeau & Denis Bedard
    • A Mixed-Methods Examination of the Barriers to Kinesiology Students’ Engagement in Work Integrated Learning, Ashley Stirling, Aalaya Milne, & Ainsley Goldman

    Towards an Assessment Model of the Impact of International Internships on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

    Shabnam Ivkovic, University of Waterloo
    Norah McRae, University of Waterloo
    Dana Church, University of Waterloo

    Globally, HEIs are now being measured on their contributions towards advancing the UN’s SDGs. Institutionally, there is growing focus on graduating global citizens who can advocate for and operationalize sustainable futures in their professions. In this paper, we propose an impact assessment model to better understand how international internships might be contributing to the SDGs in deeper, more significant ways. The model has been developed in consultation with community and institutional sustainability expert units whose mandate is to advance the SDGs through policy work, facilitating WIL experiences, and research. Each unit independently applied their own assessment approach, designed and developed based on their expertise, to a curated sample of 78 internships from the Environment Faculty (that, we believe, has a more mature sustainability curriculum) held in 12+ countries across the development spectrum; e.g., Netherlands, China, and India. Each internship was assessed from a number of perspectives, including internship job description, specifics of the project assigned, the intern’s agency within the internship, relevant application of the SDGs’ 169 targets and 232 indicators to current use case, company mandate, company CSRs, etc., and coded into having had an impact on one or more of the 17 SDGs. Of the 78, ~13% were assessed as having made a definite impact on the SDGs. The three approaches applied have been integrated to create one that suits our co-op business case. Future intent is to systematically apply this model to all international internships as a pilot exercise in creating a robust and reliable impact assessment model.

    Being: The Heart of Entrepreneurship and Experiential Education

    Jean Bibeau, Université de Sherbrooke
    Denis Bédard, Université de Sherbrooke

    Over the past two decades, entrepreneurship education has accelerated in several countries with the development of numerous training and support programs (Fayolle, Verzat, & Wapshott, 2016). Despite this growth in a variety of academic disciplines and levels (Valerio, Parton, & Robb, 2014), entrepreneurship education faces various challenges (Katz, 2008). According to Fayolle et al., (2016), the main challenge rests on the difficulty of offering training where lessons learned from practice can be enriched by theoretical and methodological elements aimed at developing students’ engagement and critical thinking. Hence, giving meaning to a learning experience in entrepreneurship in an academic context is at the heart of the problem raised by our research. Driven by this challenge, the University of Sherbrooke has offered, since 2015, a distinctive training in entrepreneurship, based on the espace experientiel (E²) pedagogy. Initially developed in the context of entrepreneurial training in management, it has since been implemented in different academic disciplines such as music, engineering, quantum physics, law, education and communication for the betterment of work-integrated learning. While several training tools or methods have mainly focused on skills mastery through the acquisition of knowledge, E² emphasizes on Being, Interacting and Reflecting, focusing more on the individual, his subjectivity and intersubjectivity. The following article first describes this pedagogy by situating it among active pedagogies. Then, the research problem and the context of data collection are stated. Finally, a presentation of the first results of the implementation of E² is made before observations are shared in the discussion and conclusion.

    A Mixed-Methods Examination of the Barriers to Kinesiology Students’ Engagement in Work Integrated Learning

    Ashley Stirling, University of Toronto
    Aalaya Milne, University of Toronto
    Ainsley Goldman, University of Toronto

    The call for the provision of work integrated learning (WIL) for all students (BHER, 2016), aligns with the broader focus within Canadian higher education for advanced access and accessibility (Jones, 2014).  Access to WIL, however, remains unevenly distributed with specific barriers previously reported for international students (Tran & Soejatminah, 2017), Indigenous students (Gair, Miles, Savage, & Zuchowski, 2015), and students from a background of low socio-economic status (Dunn, Schier, Hiller, & Harding, 2016).  Strategies for advancing inclusion have emphasized the importance of understanding population-specific barriers to engagement (Wall et al., 2017).  The purpose of this study, therefore, was to investigate undergraduate Kinesiology students’ perspectives of the barriers to engaging in an optional unpaid WIL opportunity.  A mixed-methods convergent parallel design was used for this study, and 110 surveys and 17 semi-structured interviews were completed with students.  Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and a combination of inductive and deductive coding techniques.  Findings are presented across the themes of perceived value, logistical barriers, workplace barriers, and self-efficacy and self-determination.  Interestingly, of the students not enrolled in WIL, 77% report that they would value the increased knowledge and skills they would gain from completing a placement, 72% report logistical barriers such as timing, finances, transport and support, 77% are concerned about discrimination or harassment in the workplace, and 81% report that being evaluated in the interview process keeps them from applying.  Directions for future research directions are suggested.

    Volume 4 – October 29, 2020

    • Microcredentials and Work-Integrated Learning, Anne Fannon, Kathryn Ashcroft, & Judene Pretti
    • Motivations to Participate in Knowledge Exchange and Co-operative Education in the Social Sciences and Humanities at the Doctoral Level, Letitia Henville 

    Microcredentials and Work-Integrated Learning

    Anne Fannon, University of Waterloo
    Kathryn Ashcroft, University of Waterloo
    T. Judene Pretti, University of Waterloo

    Student performance evaluations are a traditional method for assessing a student’s skills during a WIL experience. While these assessments provide students with formative feedback on the development and demonstration of their skills, any evidence associated with student performance is often transient and little record of this feedback exists after the end of the WIL experience. This paper explores the role of microcredentials in providing validated evidence of student competence in a particular skill or talent. For example, can microcredentials incentivize students to actively develop their professional skills during WIL experiences? What are employers’ impressions of microcredentials in the context of WIL? This paper will present the existing research related to microcredentials, its connection to work-integrated learning and describe preliminary results of a study at the University of Waterloo that investigated the perspectives of both students and employers on the topic of skills, microcredentials and work-integrated learning.

    Motivations to Participate in Knowledge Exchange and Co-operative Education in the Social Sciences and Humanities at the Doctoral Level
    Letitia Henville, University of British Columbia 

    What do doctoral students in the UBC Faculty of Arts who value community engagement think about work-integrated learning (WIL), and specifically about graduate co-op programs? This presentation will share the results of a CEWIL-funded research project to examine what motivates doctoral students to engage with off-campus communities as a part of their studies. Our results will be of interest to WIL staff who are interested in moving beyond the conventional language of “skills development,” especially in their conversations with faculty members. At UBC, we have had a co-op option for students in the English PhD program since 2013, and in History PhD since 2018. Yet the percentage of students who choose to participate in PhD-level co-op is much lower than the uptake among students in our professional Masters programs. I believe that an emphasis on “skills development,” “professional development,” and “career preparation” does not appeal to PhD students, in part because it ignores the possibility that participation in co-op can do more than just develop our students’ skills: it can develop their scholarship through community engagement. To test my assumption, I have held focus groups with Arts PhD students who have engaged with sites of knowledge that exist beyond the traditional borders of the campus, the library, and the archive. This presentation will discuss the aspects of knowledge exchange that attract students and their perceived barriers to participation, and I will share how we are developing our graduate co-operative education model in UBC Arts.

    CEWIL Canada Research Grant(s) & Submission Guide

    CEWIL Canada Research Grant(s)

    The CEWIL Research Grant(s) (value up to: $5000 CDN each) was established in 2006 to promote research that helps to strengthen the development of co-operative education and work-integrated learning across Canada. The field of co-operative education and work-integrated learning benefits from research that provides a deeper understanding of what engages, encourages, and enriches students, faculty, employers, and staff, as well as studies which analyze various co-op and WIL practices and their outcomes. The grant is available to all co-op and WIL practitioners and researchers.

    Why should you consider applying?

    • Connect and collaborate with colleagues across Canada
    • Produce and share meaningful co-operative education or work-integrated learning research
    • Obtain expert feedback, support and motivation to move forward with your ideas
    • Build co-operative education and work-integrated learning credibility within your own institution
    • Elevate you and your institution’s involvement in co-operative education and work-integrated learning
    • Provide a jumpstart for analysis and action in your own co-op or WIL program
    • Extend your continuing education (Masters, PhD) research in new directions
    • Contribute to CEWIL and Canada’s leadership in the domain of work-integrated learning and co-operative education.

    Please note: Overhead costs are ineligible expenses for this research grant.


    Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL) seeks to foster research activity that will advance and enhance co-operative education and work-integrated learning (WIL) across Canada. Research will strengthen the development of co-operative education and WIL as a learning model, stimulate professional discourse, and help build bridges between co-op and WIL practitioners and the academic research community.

    As part of this mandate, CEWIL established the Co-operative Education and WIL Research Grant in 2006. By establishing this grant, CEWIL is better able to:

    • Identify, promote, and support co-operative education and WIL research activity
    • Connect practitioners’ needs to potential research opportunities
    • Link co-operative education and WIL researchers both in Canada and internationally
    • Mentor those conducting co-operative education and WIL research projects and inspire others to consider such projects

    The CEWIL Co-operative Education and WIL Research Grant is an annual award and they are now accepting submissions.

    Click here to view the CEWIL Research Grant Submission Guidelines 2022

    Please forward proposals to Chad Munday at [email protected] before the submission deadline on Friday, April 29th, 2022. 

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