Work-Based Learning and Higher Education: A Research Perspective

A report by Swail, Watson S. and Kampits, Eva, commissioned by the Educational Policy Institute.

This report conducted by the Educational Policy Institute investigates the impact  and experiences of work-based learning in high school on the attainment levels of college students enrolled in four year degrees in New England.

The authors analysed the answers on the ‘Higher Education – Students Speak II’ survey which was completed by 1613 first-year college students. In this sample, 57% were women, 87% were under the age of 20, 71% were white, 93% were enrolled on four-year courses and two-thirds were expecting to complete further studies beyond their BA degree.

It was found that two-thirds of the sample participated in at least one work-based learning activity during their high school years, one-third experienced two or more activities, and 11% engaged in three or more activities. Students who had undertaken more than one work-related learning activity were more likely to participate in career or technical activities like job shadowing, and youth apprenticeships. Ethnicity had a negligible impact on likelihood to undertake work-based activities. Females were more likely to undertake one work-based learning activity than males, but the gender gap decreased as the number of activities increased. Aspirations to continue with higher education beyond BA level were higher amongst those who had participated in more than one work-based activity at high school.

The implications for admissions and recruitment practices after full-time education were positive for college students who had undertaken one or more work-based learning activity in high school.

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