Monday, August 3, 2009

Work Integrated Learning (WIL) in Accounting

The recent WIL week has had me thinking that the traditional internship or practicum unit model is not appropriate for accounting.  This model as it implemented in other disciplines is predicated on the assumption that the student does not already have relevant industry experience.  Frequently, this is not the case in accounting.  Many students are working full-time or part-time in the industry either through cadetships or by being recruited to entry-level positions during their studies.  It would give UC a distinctive feature if this work experience of students working in the industry could be developed into a unit which could count towards the students' degrees.

While I am considering this issue from an accounting perspective, its application is not restricted to that profession.  This model could be applied in any discipline which has sufficient students working in their industry and wishing to undertake this type of unit to make the unit viable.

The basic model I imagine for this unit would consist of:
  • Students maintaining a reflective journal for the period of their study
  • Students developing a professional and academic portfolio documenting their skills and accomplishments
  • Students preparing a paper on the fit between their University studies and the skills they need currently and for their future career
The coursework for this unit would consist of some intensive sessions at the start on portfolios and journals and some sessions during their studies for students to discuss the fit between their studies and their current and future work.

If the University structure allows, there is no reason why this unit needs to be run over a single semester or even a single year.

There is also no reason why this unit needs to be restricted to the for-payment work environment.  Students undertaking sufficient industry based work on a voluntary basis could also participate in this or a similar unit.

I will discuss this proposal with some others around the discipline and the University to see if it has legs.

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