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Work-based learning includes a continuum of structured activities utilizing the partnership between industry and education to engage student learning. Through experiences with industry professionals, participants are able to foster first-hand engagement with in-depth application of academic, technical and professional skills to the tasks required of a given career field while meeting specific learning objectives. Work-based learning is a progression through awareness, exploration, preparation and training to support student learning for future success.
Essential Elements of Work-Based Learning
- Academic Preparation
- Partnership Between Education and Industry
- Academic Follow-up
Work-Based Learning at Schools
- Iowa Work-Based Learning Guide - Outlines quality work-based learning in Iowa including the continuum, definitions and resources available.
- Expanding Work-Based Learning for Schools - A three-step process to guide local work-based learning decisions for district planning teams.
- Work-Based Learning Self-Assessment Tool - Provides districts/colleges with an assessment tool to determine steps for improvement in WBL
- Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning - A directory of authentic projects ready for educators to implement in their classrooms.
- Earn and Learn Website - Information on how to start an apprenticeship program.
High School Internships
Internships provide students with a hands-on opportunity to develop career and professional skills with an industry partner in a workplace setting.
- Iowa Internship Toolkit - Highlights key components of a high-quality internship program to prepare students for success in postsecondary education, training and careers.
- High School Internship Guidance - Provides information on designing various types of internship opportunities and support for students participating in internships.
- Operational Sharing for Work-Based Learning Coordinators - Defines school district use of operational sharing for work-based learning coordinators under chapter 97.
- Sample Training Plan - A template that can be used as an evaluation tool for an internship program.
- Sample Training Agreement - An example of a contract to be signed before a student participates in an internship.
- Multioccupations Endorsement - An endorsement designed for those who supervise students in on-the-job situations such as cooperative education programs and school-to-work programs.
- Iowa Work-Based Learning Endorsements - Details of the multioccupations coordinator and work experience coordinator endorsement certifications.
- Formal Opinion - Iowa Code 92.9 - This is the formal opinion from the Department about Iowa Code 92.9. Note page two, paragraph three, "In order to properly oversee student progress and award credit, the district instructor must evaluate student progress at the worksite quarterly with additional visits as needed. Direct questions to Thomas Mayes, General Counsel for the Iowa Department of Education.
Work-Based Learning at Community Colleges
Iowa’s 15 community college districts, in partnership with the Iowa Department of Education and Future Ready Iowa, are focused on increasing Work-Based Learning opportunities for students and employers, regardless of industry, size and geographic location to meet Iowa’s workforce needs.
Community colleges offer many work-based learning experiences within the curriculum, offering internships, practicums and career exploration. Transfer majors are also being built between the community colleges and universities with related work experiences in mind. Guidance for developing work-based learning within the curriculum is available within the following resources.
- Iowa Community College Work-based Learning State Initiative
- Iowa Community College Work-Based Learning Course Guide
- CIP Crosswalk for WBL Programs
Marketing Documents for Iowa Community College Work-Based Learning OpportunityBack to top
Work-Based Learning Toolkits - Provides tools, and recommendations to address barriers to increasing opportunities for high school students, while also providing a wide range of real-world examples from across the state that can be modeled and replicated within local communities.
- Authentic Project Experiences Toolkit
- Career Immersion Experience Toolkit
- Career-Based Service Learning Toolkit
- Classroom Speaker Toolkit
- Developing Professional Skills in CTE Toolkit
- Informational Interview Toolkit
- Interactive Career Event Toolkit
- Job Shadow Toolkit
- Mock Interview Toolkit
- Professional Skills Workshop Toolkit
- School-Based Enterprise Toolkit
- Worksite Exploratory Event Toolkit
- Sectors of Opportunity - Iowa Career Pathway Mapping Projects - Opportunity documents have been created for information technology, energy and utilities, advanced manufacturing, health sciences, building and trades, and transportation, distribution and logistics.
- Embedding Work-Based Learning - Provides planning support when embedding work-based learning experiences into courses.
- Providing Equitable Student Access and Support for Work-Based Learning - Strategies to overcome student access barriers to work-based learning.
- Business Education Alliance Work-based Learning Schematic - Overview of work-based learning opportunities and resources in Iowa.
- STEM BEST Grant Funding
Work-Based Learning Strategies Webinar Series
A five-part webinar series focusing on key work-based learning support strategies to help connect classroom instruction and in-school supports with quality workplace experiences.
- Building Sustainable Work-Based Learning Programs - Recorded 12-14-22. Learn how to develop and expand student opportunities for work-based learning. Dec. 14 Handout
- Implementing Work-Based Learning in the Individualized Career and Academic Plan (ICAP) - Recorded 12-21-22. Information on how to embed work-based learning into the ICAP process and prepare students for their futures will be shared. Dec. 21 Handout
- Transforming Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) Activities into Work-Based Learning Experiences - Recorded 1-18-23. Learn about this innovative approach in partnering CTSO activities with opportunities for work-based learning. Jan. 18 Handout
- Incorporating Best Practices for Work-Based Learning in Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Career Academies - Recorded 2-7-23. Discover best practices for work-based learning focused on CTE and career academies. Feb. 7 Handout
- Supporting Historically Underserved Students in Work-Based Learning - Recorded 2-15-23. Find new ways to support all students in their career exploration and work-based learning experiences. Feb. 15 Handout
- Iowa Work-Based Learning Coordinators - Connect, collaborate and share ideas with other work-based learning coordinators in Iowa.
- Association of Career and Technical Education - Provides education leadership in developing a competitive workforce by empowering educators to deliver high-quality career and technical education programs that ensure students are positioned for career success. The website features a Work-Based Learning section.