The influence of work integrated learning on students studying at a University of Technology in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Hlubi, Zamandaba Cynthia.
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This research study investigates the experiences of students during Work Integrated Learning (WIL) at a University of Technology in KwaZulu-Natal. Work Integrated Learning is a methodology of curriculum design that integrates academic learning with industry-based experiential learning that is structured, monitored and assessed to meet the outcomes of a learning programme. Students spend three to twelve months in the workplace (depending on the academic requirements of their qualification) under the mentorship of a workplace supervisor. The purpose of Work Integrated Learning is to develop the ability to apply knowledge and skills to the demands of real life and the world of work. WIL also provides students with an opportunity to learn by doing, understanding their role in the workplace and applying their skills and knowledge to complete work responsibilities. Of paramount importance in the investigation was the impact of WIL on student learning. In carrying out this investigation, this work made use of the framework of Kolb’s theory of learning (2014). Kolb’s theory of learning states that learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience and knowledge resulting from the combination of grasping experience and transforming it (McLeod, 2010). Kolb’s theory of learning defines the process of learning during experiential learning into four stages, namely: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualisation and active experimentation. According to this model, for learning to take place during Work Integrated Learning, students should be exposed to all four aspects of the learning cycle. This research study adopted a quantitative research methodology. The questions were formulated from each of the four constructs in Kolb’s theoretical framework. Data was analysed in an SPSS package. From the findings, it can be concluded that the students were exposed to active experimentation, and hence managed to obtain sufficient work experience. Furthermore, the students managed to see a direct link between classwork and their work experience. However, a significant percentage of the students expressed less confidence on given tasks where they had to work independently. These findings are of paramount importance in the re-design of the curriculum and lecture delivery.