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The WIL to learn: Students’ perspectives on the impact of work-integrated learning placements on their professional readiness
Work-integrated learning (WIL) has assumed life as a central feature of higher education curriculum design in a wide range of disciplines with the ultimate goal of producing work-ready graduates. Under recent Australian government initiatives affecting teacher education, placement forms of WIL have been touted as the panacea for perceived problems with graduate teacher quality; resulting in the national regulation of placement design and length in this discipline. This article reports the findings of a qualitative study into the perspectives of fifteen teacher education students from one regional Australian university. The study investigated these students’ placement experiences and the impact of these experiences on their perceptions of readiness for a career in the teaching profession. Thematic analysis is the method used to identify two key themes in the data collected through semi-structured interviews. Despite recognising the benefits of real-world opportunities for skill development and practice inherent in WIL placement experiences, the study highlights important limitations of these forms of WIL on the development of professional readiness arising from the contextual features of particular placement sites; relationships with workplace supervisors and performance pressure associated with assessment during placements. These findings not only confirm the importance of social processes in the preparation of work-ready graduates but question reliance on placement forms of WIL learning for nurturing graduates’ readiness for professional work. © 2019, © 2019 HERDSA.