At a Glance

After determining the necessity of a work-based program and building your team, the third section of the Work-Based Courses toolkit shows community and technical colleges how to design the curriculum to best prepare student workers.

Published jul. 27, 2000

Designing the Course and Curriculum

When designing a work-based course curriculum, the college must rethink existing coursework and expand on the concept of preparation for the workplace to include learning in the workplace. Because they are drawn from credit-bearing courses, work-based courses must continue meeting the requirements of the college’s manufacturing degree and certificate programs.

As they begin planning, colleges should talk to companies they have worked with before to discuss how work-based courses can enhance existing training activities. Based on the companies’ primary skill needs and the positions they have the most trouble filling, the college can select the most relevant courses from its catalog to adapt to a work-based delivery. The specific workplace knowledge, skills, and abilities to be mapped onto work-based courses can be identified collaboratively, with college and employers working together.

In a work-based course model, the workplace provides options to demonstrate, reinforce, and assess students’ skills on the job. Through an assessment process, these opportunities are documented and formalized, so the learning that takes place in each context is verified and acknowledged. Employers help inform faculty on how a student performs a particular skill on the job, and faculty can inform employers when a student is ready to put a new concept to work.

Mapping Work-Based Competencies with Curriculum

Questions to Ask before Watching This Video

  • Ask your employer partners how their companies document the knowledge, tasks, and skills that workers must master in their job.
  • How does a course curriculum that prepares students for the workplace differ from and complement learning in the workplace?
  • How well do your current course offerings simulate learning in the workplace or connect to real-world work experiences, such as internships?

Questions to Ask after Watching This Video

  • How do your employer partners expect that the process described in the video—doing a job-task analysis, documenting critical tasks and steps to complete them, and using this information to inform the work-based course design—would benefit their organization?
  • Identify any obstacles to doing a job-task analysis and leading a work-based course design process. How might you address these?
  • How do you think your faculty would respond to working with employers to modify the content, delivery, and scope of some existing course offerings and adapt them for work-based delivery?

Designing Outcomes and Assessment Instruments

Question to Ask before Watching This Video

  • How do supervisors at partner companies assess the readiness of incoming workers to determine if they understand current industry and plant practices?
  • How do they evaluate which workers are qualified to operate specific machinery?

Questions to Ask after Watching This Video

  • Why is it important that tools for assessing competencies have the buy-in and understanding of employer supervisors?
  • Describe a situation in which communication between the employer supervisor and community college faculty might improve worker performance, and give an example of how it might impact the way a topic is taught in the classroom.
  • What can college faculty learn with respect to designing outcomes and assessment instruments by visiting a job site?