Work-Based Learning


What is work-based learning (WBL)?

WBL is a critical component of a student’s career pathway, and encompasses activities that provide students with real-life or simulated work experiences.

Learn about the PrepareRI Internship Program.


Why is WBL important?

WBL allows students to apply and develop their academic, technical, and professional skills, shows students the relevance of their education as it connects to the real world, and prepares them for success in college and career.


What is our goal for WBL?

The ambitious goal of the PrepareRI initiative is that high-quality work-based learning opportunities will be available in every high school by 2020.


What are examples of WBL opportunities?

WBL activities provide students with real-life or simulated work experiences.  These experiences are often credit-bearing opportunities that provide students with rigorous opportunities to pursue career and industry-connected learning both during and outside of the traditional school day.   WBL experiences can occur through a variety of delivery mechanisms, including but not limited to expanded learning opportunities (ELOs), summer youth employment programming, in-school courses, dual enrollment, Advanced Course Network courses, and online or blended learning options.  

Rhode Island is employing a flexible definition of WBL, encompassing the activities below: 

  • Internship: A position for a student or trainee to work in an organization, sometimes without pay, to gain work experience, satisfy requirements for a credential, and/or gain course credit. Internships may be organized by schools, or done through the PrepareRI Internship Program.

  • Apprenticeship: Highly-formal job training experience that involves studying with a master of the trade on the job.

  • Service-learning: A program or project which combines community service with an outside organization with a structured opportunity for reflection about that service, emphasizing the connections between service experiences and academic learning.

  • School-based enterprise: Students produce and sell goods or services in the school and learn about business skills and entrepreneurship. This may be part of an entrepreneurship course, and a business professional may serve as a mentor and advisor for the enterprise.

  • Industry project: Individual, group, or class-wide projects in which students address a real-world, industry-focused question or problem with the guidance of industry professionals.


What does it mean for WBL opportunities to be high-quality?

Broadly, WBL should meet the following standards of quality.  Specific WBL activities should meet more detailed guidance for expectations of high-quality, which are currently under development.

  • Rigorous: Skill-based, and tied to measurable outcomes

  • Relevant: Connected to a student’s interests and to the real world of work

  • Reflective: Engages the student in reflection and analysis

  • Interactive: Providing multiple and extended opportunities for students to interact with industry professionals

  • Integrated: Connected with the student’s school-based curriculum and for academic credit

For more detail, read the Governor's Workforce Board's guidance on work-based learning. RIDE recommends that all high schools designate a Career Coordinator to be the school's point person for WBL opportunities.