Programs that integrate work-based learning experiences with school activities are proliferating, yet little is known about their quality as learning experiences for young people. This article examines two programs operating in the same school district, where students receive course credit for participating in work-based learning. In contrasting the kinds of learning opportunities each offers to students, the quality of students' work experiences in these programs and the relationship between program participation and school learning are highlighted. Students perceive the quality of their work to be very similar across the programs despite differences in the type of work involved and in several structural features of the programs. Both programs have weaknesses in establishing connections between school and work, and the numbers of hours students work negatively affects some aspects of school performance such as having time to do homework and the desire to stay in school. These findings raise questions about the value added of work-based learning, given costs associated with the program design and delivery, and in some cases, with participation.
MDS-1245 / October 1998