Supporting Host Supervisors in Work-integrated Learning

Macquarie University, Australia

Macquarie University, Australia


Work-integrated learning (WIL) is becoming a central component of university curricula across many countries including Australia, Canada, the US and UK. The host supervisor, that is, the person or people external to the university who 'look after' students in various ways during WIL placements, play a key role in providing and facilitating effective placement experiences (Rowe & Winchester-Seeto, 2014). Despite this, evidence suggests hosts receive little support from universities (Keating et al., 2010), even though they are often expected to assume a diverse range of roles including supervising, supporting, and educating students. Without offering opportunities for support and professional development it may be unrealistic to expect hosts to undertake all of the responsibilities assigned to them, especially those new to supervision. This showcase will present evidence based recommendations informed by findings of a small research project, investigating stakeholder perspectives of the roles and responsibilities of students, academics and hosts in WIL. These stakeholder groups (N=37) were asked what support or training was available to them in their role, and to identify types of support they would find helpful pre, during and post placement. Types of support desired by hosts varied from policies/procedures outlining requirements and expectations, a single point of contact with the university, specific assistance in managing students experiencing difficulties, and the provision of formal feedback from the university for quality assurance purposes. Recommendations have been presented and evaluated by a university WIL community of practice group comprised of academics experienced in WIL.

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