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Preliminary Insights into International Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Placements in Disability and Student Recommendations for Success


This pilot study explored the experiences of undergraduate students studying disability who undertook a three-week international Work Integrated Learning (WIL) placement in Brunei Darussalam. Presented are the students’ perspectives of the value of the international WIL and its impact on their personal and professional growth. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted and transcripts analysed using a thematic and iterative qualitative approach compatible with phenomenology. Three major themes exploring student experiences emerged: ‘valued experiences’, ‘cultural dissonance’ and ‘personal and professional growth’. Four recommendations relate to ‘selection interviews, comprehensive pre-departure sessions, accommodation, and quality university supervision’. Indicative findings suggest the placement had a valuable and positive impact on the students, increasing their cultural competence and assisting with their personal and professional growth. Additionally, the findings provide further insight on what makes international WIL placements successful and promotes optimal learning.

Published: 2020-04-14
Pages:52 to 59
How to Cite
Essl, P., Bellon, M., & Ellison, C. (2020). Preliminary Insights into International Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Placements in Disability and Student Recommendations for Success. Student Success, 11(2), 52-59.

Author Biographies

Flinders University
Australia Australia

Peggy Essl is an Associate Lecturer – Work Integrated Learning (WIL) (Scholarly Fellow) for Disability and Community Inclusion at Flinders University in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. She is a Developmental Educator and a full member of the Developmental Educators of Australia Inc (DEAI). Recently, she represented Flinders University on the Community Living Project’s (CLP) Family Leadership in Workforce Innovation Steering Committee.  She is interested in scholarly research around the student experience in Work Integrated Learning (WIL) and she has supervised five international WIL placements in Indonesia (Jakarta), Singapore, Brunei (2) and Bali. 

Flinders University
Australia Australia

Michelle Bellon is an Associate Professor in the Disability and Community Inclusion Unit, and Course Coordinator of the Bachelor of Disability and Developmental Education in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. She began her career working as a Developmental Educator providing education, community integration and counselling support to adults with acquired brain injury (ABI) within community-based and private consultancy services. Her research, teaching and professional involvement combine interests in epilepsy, acquired brain injury and family/care-giver supports. She has held a range of management roles including President of the Epilepsy Association of SA and NT, Director of Epilepsy Australia, and Board member of the Community Re-entry Program. Michelle is currently an Epilepsy Ambassador, and member of the Editorial Board of Brain Impairment.

University of South Australia
Australia Australia

I am Associate Professor Caroline Ellison. Crossing the Horizon Professor of Ageing and Disability and a Developmental Educator. I have extensive multidisciplinary professional practice, teaching and research experience across disability and human services in Australia and SE Asia. I am about engaging with people living with disability and those experiencing aging as co researchers and collaborators as well as academic researchers, mainstream society, the NDIS and Myagedcare, to create increased inclusion of all people. Approx 20-25% of the population live with impairment and we are all ageing. It is an economic, not just human rights issue, that we consider full inclusion of diverse populations in all societal systems. I am interested in systemic, societal and individual issues across sectors such as disability inclusive development, urban planning, housing, end of life choice and planning, arts, sports and leisure (how we use our free time), access to spiritual activities, positive behaviour support, protective behaviours and sexual health, family leadership, social role valorisation, the NDIS, Myagedcare and workforce development. The global theme of my research is to transform communities to be accessible and inclusive to benefit everyone.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795