Inclusive Work-Integrated Learning in Journalism Education: A Wise Practice Framework

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Forde, Susan R

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Meadows, Michael

Burrows, Elizabeth A

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This exegesis reports on nine case studies of university-led work-integrated learning (WIL) in journalism at Griffith University (GU), undertaken from 2014–2018. While WIL has a relatively long history in journalism education in terms of internships and cadetships, they have some limitations in terms of access and equity. Students may lack the capacity to fulfil the requirements of internships because of disadvantage, the number of available placements may be limited and/or students may have varied experiences with placements. This exegesis enunciates the varied dimensions and faces of a ‘wise practice’ approach to university-led WIL in journalism education and addresses the central research questions: What are the dimensions of inclusive, quality WIL and what are the challenges to its implementation? To address these questions, I draw on data from participant observation as well as from interviews and focus groups with students, academics and industry partners. Each set of data formed a case study. This multiple case study analysis has led me to identify three distinct yet interrelated models of university-led WIL in journalism education – I have called these Flipped WIL, Event WIL and Purpose WIL. The development and delivery of each of the case studies were informed by the teaching philosophy of university-led WIL as wise practice, which emphasises context, diversity, inclusion and community. University-led WIL occurs within a hybridised space created within a university context outside the internship/placement model. Students obtain practical experience, usually in conjunction with a professional organisation, and this goes beyond simply providing ‘scholarly problematizing by students of their practice experiences’ (Cooper and Orrell, 2016, p. 111). The Flipped WIL case studies comprised scaffolded, practice-based units culminating in a capstone unit. Student learning occurred through working as, and alongside, industry in a specially configured, university-based multimedia newsroom. In contrast, the Event WIL case studies involved students working collaboratively with industry at specific newsworthy events – the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Brisbane, the Blues on Broadbeach annual music festival on the Gold Coast and the 2018 Commonwealth Games, also on the Gold Coast. The Purpose WIL case studies engaged with the community around the social issues of domestic violence, refugee mental health and disability, with a social justice focus. Each model involved students producing relevant multimedia news stories for an authentic news outlet, and building skills in analysis, critique, creativity and innovation. The models allowed students enrolled in on-campus journalism programs to be prepared for employment in an evolving and challenging media landscape because they provided equivalent access to what Billett (2002, p. 29) refers to as ‘affordances’, that is, the workplace’s ‘readiness to afford opportunities for individuals to engage in work activities’, and ‘engagement’, that is, the ‘degree by which individuals wish to engage purposefully in the workplace’. The affordances offered by industry workplaces were incorporated into the hybrid space created by the university-led model described, and were enabled and enhanced to produce inclusive, quality WIL when five key dimensions were invoked. These are that the WIL experience is university-led, undertaken in a hybrid space, embedded in community and sustainable, and recognises and encourages student agency. There are, however, challenges to implementing inclusive, quality WIL, including with online students, access issues, high academic workloads and a student and industry perception about a lack of legitimacy for WIL experiences within the university context. This project sets out to provide a timely, engaging, robust and reflexive analysis of the development and objectives of the Wise Practice Work-integrated learning model in journalism education. Illustrated by the nine case studies, this model has potential to serve as a template for other institutions while contributing to journalism pedagogy in Australia. The implications of the WIL model discussed here, through the testing and analysis of the Flipped WIL model, the Event model and the Purpose WIL model, will form the basis for future projects and/or the adoption of similar models elsewhere.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Hum, Lang & Soc Sc

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The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.

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inclusive education

journalism education


wise practice

work-integrated learning

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