Work-based learning is an instructional strategy that is essential in preparing all students for success in postsecondary education and careers and is a core component of the Linked Learning approach. The primary purposes of work-based learning are to expose students to future options and provide opportunities for skill development and mastery over time. All work-based learning experiences involve interactions with industry or community professionals that are linked to school-based instruction. These learning experiences are intentionally designed to help students extend and deepen classroom work and to make progress toward learning outcomes that are difficult to achieve through classroom or standard project-based learning alone. The term “work-based” does not mean the experience must occur at a workplace or during the standard “workday.”

A continuum of work-based learning experiences stretches from kindergarten into adulthood. Stated most simply, the stages of work-based learning can be described as:

  • Learning ABOUT work.
  • Learning THROUGH work.
  • Learning FOR work.

The GMCS Work-Based Learning Continuum

GMCS WBL Continuum page 0002 1
Click on the graphic for a pdf copy.
Career Awareness & Exploration

Career Awareness experiences are those that help students build awareness of the variety of
careers available and the postsecondary education expected for these careers. Career
Awareness experiences also broaden students’ options by helping them become aware of
opportunities available across a wide range of industry sectors that they might not otherwise
have known or considered.

Career Exploration provides students with the opportunity to explore career options in a way
that contributes to motivation for learning and informs students’ decisions about further
experiences and career and educational options. Compared to Career Awareness experiences,
Career Exploration experiences are designed to enable students to learn about targeted careers
more deeply, are more personalized to the student’s interests, and give the student a more
active role in selecting and shaping the experience.

Career Awareness experiences might include the following:
• Workplace tour
• Guest speaker
• Career fair
• Visit parents at work

Career Exploration experiences might include the following:
• Informational interview
• Job shadow
• Virtual exchange with a partner

Career Preparation & Training

All Career Preparation experiences support higher-level college and career readiness student
outcomes include extended interaction with professionals from industry and the community,
and are designed to give students supervised practical application of previously studied theory.
While Career Awareness and Exploration have levels of awareness as a primary outcome,
Career Preparation marks a shift in the continuum to support a student’s levels of performance
relative to particular learning outcomes.

Career Training experiences prepare students for employment in a specific range of
occupations. Career Training experiences in high school are most suitable for 11th- and 12th-grade students, and Career Training is a primary strategy in postsecondary education and often
connects to work leading to industry certification.

Career Preparation experiences might include the following:
• Integrated project with multiple interactions with professionals
• Student-run enterprise with partner involvement
• Virtual enterprise or other extended online interactions with partners
• Project with partners through industry student organizations
• Service learning and social enterprises with partners
• Compensated internship connected to curriculum

Career Training experiences might include the following:
• Internship required for credential or entry to occupation
• Apprenticeship
• Clinical experience
• On-the-job training
• Work experience

Learn more about the GMCS Internship Program.

Learn more about other GMCS-CCCR initiatives.