work-based learning

Inspired by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s N2025 Strategic Plan, a symposium on Thursday, Feb. 6, will teach instructors to better prepare their students for the workforce.  

Hosted in Knoll Residence Hall by the College of Arts and Sciences Teaching Academy and the UNL Center for Transformative Teaching, the symposium will help faculty motivate students to pursue work-based learning, which provides students with real-life experiences.  

According to Chad Brassil, associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences, the symposium will feature keynote speaker Chris Gallagher, a professor of English at Northeastern University and author, who will talk about how to integrate work-based learning into the classroom. Attendees have the opportunity to attend a lunch afterward so that they can network with other instructors and guests.

“Work-based learning is a mindset; let’s get instructors and faculty to think about what’s going to happen to our students after they leave here and educate them holistically,” Brassil said. “We want that to feel like it’s intimately tied to your preparation to work in a job.”

According to Brassil, the symposium will teach them how to facilitate work-based ideals in their courses and classrooms. Instructors will specifically learn how to make the content they teach more applicable to succeeding in the workforce after college.

He said work-based learning takes place outside the classroom, such as in an internship or through volunteering at a nonprofit organization. But it also includes learning skill sets in the classroom that students will use after they graduate college and enter the workforce.

Brassil said the symposium will hopefully be full of engaging discussions among the participants and a time where people can share ideas of how to enforce work-based ideals in their own classrooms. 

“We want the participants to be having those conversations among themselves as a community so we can start to effect change,” he said. “There are no particular objectives to change, but something may emerge from those conversations that people are having during the symposium and as part of the lunch afterward.”

UNL psychology professor Calvin Garbin, who will speak during the event, said the symposium will be a valuable occasion for people who care about the same thing to gather together.

“I think the event is designed to bring together people who would like part of their course to point out what happens to kids after they go to work and facilitate that in the courses,” he said. 

Brassil said this conversation is important because it acknowledges the reality of what students are doing after graduation and challenges instructors to have that in mind. If all goes well, he said he would like to have another symposium, which could be a follow-up workshop covering work-based learning or an event about an entirely different initiative.

“I hope participants get some new ideas from the symposium,” Brassil said. “And I hope participants build a network of people to continue implementing their ideas.”