Work-based Learning


Work-based learning is one of 12 elements of high-quality CTE, defined in ACTE’s comprehensive, research-based Quality CTE Program of Study Framework. This element addresses the delivery of a continuum of work-based learning involving sustained, meaningful interactions with industry or community professionals that foster in-depth, firsthand engagement with the tasks required in a given career field. Experiences may be delivered in workplaces, in the community, at educational institutions and/or virtually, as appropriate, and include a range of activities such as workplace tours, job shadowing, school-based enterprises, internships and apprenticeships. The following reports, articles, guides and toolkits can help you develop and implement high-quality work-based learning.

Work-based Learning Strategies

Taking Business to School Case Study Series
ACTE, various

These case studies examine how employers across industries have engaged with education institutions, both secondary and postsecondary, to develop career pathways and provide meaningful work-based learning that leads to careers.

Career Exploration in Middle School: Setting Students on the Path to Success
ACTE, May 2017

Career exploration is offered to middle school students through exploratory and introductory CTE courses, personalized education and career planning, and opportunities to explore future options through career and technical student organizations and work-based learning activities. This report from ACTE, with support from Career Cruising (now Xello), provides examples of these delivery methods and recommendations to help teachers, counselors and administrators implement and improve these practices at the program, school and district levels.

The Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education: Employer Engagement at Its Best 
Leveridge, ACTE Techniques Magazine, March 2016

KY FAME created an apprentice-style hybrid model designed to develop globally competitive talent locally.

Work-Based Learning for the New Economy: From “K to J” in Tennessee
Gibney, ACTE Techniques Magazine, May 2015

This article describes Tennessee’s development of a process for career preparation across a “kindergarten to job” continuum, premised on early intervention and ongoing exposure, and how policy is translating to practice.

Workplace Immersion for Accelerated Learning
Jacobson, ACTE Techniques Magazine, April 2015

Learning at work functions as an immersion experience that engages the senses and focuses students’ attention on the tasks at hand, speeding up the creation of brain-based connections.

Work-based Learning: The Key to Connecting Students to the World of Work
Xanthis, ACTE Techniques Magazine, January 2015

Staff from New York’s Orange-Ulster BOCES Career and Technical Education Center describes how, over 25 years, the school has built connections to provide meaningful work-based learning.

Learning to Learn: Why the Supervised Ag Experience Is Key to Agricultural Education
Fritsch, ACTE Techniques Magazine, October 2013

The National Council for Agricultural Education, an umbrella group that represents all sectors of agricultural education, is mounting a campaign to bring supervised agricultural experiences back into every high school agricultural education program.

Knowledge is the Key to Helping Students Choose Their Path
Williams, ACTE Techniques Magazine, January 2017

A teacher describes the professional development workshop process she designed for her students, including college and career research in the classroom, a single job-shadowing day within the career the student researched, reflection on the experience and a classroom presentation.

Work-based Learning Opportunities for High School Students
Alfeld, Charner, Johnson and Watts, FHI 360, February 2013

This report describes similarities and differences, as well as strengths and limitations, across three major work-based learning categories—internships/co-operative education, youth apprenticeships and school-based enterprises—supplemented by vignettes, case studies and descriptions of selected work-based learning sites.

Connecting the Classroom to Careers: Measuring Work-based Learning for Continuous Improvement
Advance CTE, August 2016

The brief highlights examples from West Virginia, Tennessee and Massachusetts that demonstrate either a systems-level or student-level approach to measuring work-based learning activities.