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

  1. Academic Preparation
  2. Partnership Between Education and Industry
  3. Academic Follow-up

Iowa Work-Based Learning Fact Sheet

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Work-Based Learning at Schools


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.
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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.

Marketing Documents for Iowa Community College Work-Based Learning Opportunity

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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.

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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. 

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Professional Organizations

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