Work-Based Learning

A core component of the learning experience in any Linked Learning pathway is work-based learning. Work-based learning allows students to apply their classroom learning in professional settings and gain real-world experience in the process. Students learn what it takes to thrive in the professional world through partnerships with local employers that offer internships, mentoring, job shadows and similar opportunities. This adds depth and meaning to students’ education, as classroom learning becomes more meaningful and relevant to students when paired with opportunities to experience the subject matter firsthand. Students become more engaged and excited about their education and future prospects because they are able to answer the question: “Why do I need to learn this?”.

Work-Based Learning in Action

Many work-based learning experiences are designed to give students the opportunity to work alongside professionals and experience the application of theories and techniques that are covered in class.For example, students enrolled in a Linked Learning health occupations pathway might study the latest trends in patient care in school, and the work alongside medical professionals in hospitals to put that into action. See for yourself in the video below!

Return on Investment

Though students are the biggest beneficiaries of work-based learning, it also gives local business leaders the chance to invest in the local economy and the next generation of employees by ensuring that students are well-prepared for a range of opportunties after they graduate. See for yourself in the video below!



Work-Based Learning Continuum

The Work-Based Learning Continuum provides a way of visualizing and organizing the continuum of high quality experiences that help students to identify and explore their career interests and prepare for those career options through practical experience. The continuum outlines some of the many activities, both in and outside the classroom, which enable students to connect academic and technical content to its ‘real world’ application, and to build 21st century career readiness skills and competencies.

This Knowledge Brief by the Stanford Center for Opportunity in Education (SCOPE) provides more information about work-based learning: Preparing 21st Century Citizens: The Role of Work-Based Learning in Linked Learning (SCOPE, August 2013) 

Linked Learning Field Resources

Linked Learning: A Guide to Making High School Work
UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access
May 2013

As Linked Learning expands, it is a key moment to identify many of the shared and effective strategies employed by schools and districts implementing the approach. Linked Learning: A Guide to Making High School Work, along with an accompanying DVD, highlights the experiences—both the struggles and successes—of sites that have committed to the hard work of transforming the high school experience for students using the Linked Learning approach. Based on a study of 10 high school sites across California, this guidebook provides educators, policymakers and stakeholders interested in revamping their school communities a solid launching point. The guidebook does not offer hard-set rules or checklists for implementing Linked Learning; rather, it presents six conditions that are strongly associated with successful Linked Learning pathways.

Expanding Access, Creating Options: How Linked Learning Pathways Can Mitigate Barriers to College and Career Access in Schools and Districts
The Education Trust-West
March 2013

The study, conducted over two years, highlights the connection between quality implementation of Linked Learning and equity and college and career access. The key findings in this report reinforce the need for consistency in the non-negotiable elements of Linked Learning as districts strive to take this approach to scale.

Work Based Learning in Linked Learning: Definitions, Outcomes & Quality Criteria
Linked Learning Alliance (Field Review Draft)
November 2012

Developed by the Linked Learning Alliance’s Work-based Learning Subcommittee (part of the Pathway Development Working Group), this document has two aims: (1) to provide clarity for teachers, partners, and others implementing Linked Learning concerning the definition of high-quality, outcomes-driven work-based learning; and (2) to increase alignment among Linked Learning partners and technical assistance providers so that support for Linked Learning practitioners around work-based learning can be more coherent, coordinated, and effective. Although in on-going field review, this document provides a useful resource for practitioners and work-based learning partners to begin to develop and structure outcomes-based work-based learning experiences for students.

Work-Based Learning Strategy- The Career Practicum
Linked Learning Alliance
June 2011

The precursor to the work-based learning definitions document above, the purpose of this document is to define and support the implementation of the ‘Career Practicum’ as a set of work-based learning experiences that play an important role on the continuum of work-based learning.


LaunchPath involves employers, educators, and students in a collaborative effort to strengthen our workforce.

This innovative online matching system connects the right students with the right employers for meaningful career-aligned opportunities.

Learn more about LaunchPath here.