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NET Gain No. 25:
Work-Based Learning
(March 1999)

Career and technical educators nationwide subscribe to the concept of work-based learning. Not only has the cooperative education version of WBL been in operation for decades, but WBL is a major component of education programs supported by the School-to-Work Opportunities Act. This "Net Gain" features some of the most up-to-date WBL resources.

What Is Work-Based Learning?

WBL's place in school-to-work is outlined in Elements of the School-to-Work Opportunities Act: Work-Based Learning at Another useful summary is ERIC Digest No. 187, Work-Based Learning, from the ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career and Vocational Education at The digest includes references to 17 other publications for further information--at least four are available online. Visit the linked version of this reference list on the NCRVE's site at

The inaugural issue of NCRVE's CenterPoint series, "Work-Based Learning for Students in High Schools and Community Colleges" at, devotes its three main sections to numerous goals WBL can help students achieve, the various ways of structuring WBL in relation to these goals and how to assess the quality of teaching and learning in a work context. It also includes 33 references, some of which are available online.

WBL in Practice

Washington's Work-based Learning Resource Center at has a page of links to resources for educators, employers and students, as well as links to schools that advocate WBL. The site also has information on job shadowing, mentoring, structured work experience, cooperative education, internships, apprenticeships, service learning and school-based enterprises.

An NCRVE project on WBL at two-year colleges that comprises more than 550 programs has a searchable database at The programs are categorized by WBL examples, such as clinical experiences, cooperative education and youth apprenticeship and state and program models, including agriculture, hospitality and the trades. Results include contact information and program details. Two reports synthesize this data: Work-Based Learning in Two-Year Colleges in the United States at and Linking College and Work: Exemplary Practices in Two-Year College Work-Based Learning Programs at

Additional Resources

A search of the ERIC/ACVE full-text archive for "work-based learning" at retrieves more than a dozen digests and other short items [NOTE: This link is not currently working!]. NCRVE has a page of links to WBL resources at A customized search of NCRVE materials on that page yields about 20 publications, 12 of which are available online. And a "subject area" search of the School-to-Work Learning Center's database for work-based learning at retrieves 175 items.

  This "NET Gain" was compiled by David Carlson and Peter Seidman (NCRVE, University of California at Berkeley). An online version of this column is available on the NCRVE World Wide Web server ( Readers are encouraged to let the authors know about any changes in the resources listed, as well as about others they find useful.
  David Carlson: 800-(old phone deleted); -->
  Peter Seidman: 800-(old phone deleted); -->

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