Using internship placements to road test threshold learning outcomes for environment and sustainability

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Whelan, M 2016, Using internship placements to road test threshold learning outcomes for environment and sustainability, in KE Zegwaard, M Ford & N McRae (eds), Refereed Proceedings of the 2nd International Research Symposium on Cooperative and Work-Integrated Education, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, 12-15 June, World Association for Cooperative Education (WACE), Victoria, Canada, pp. 203-212. ISBN: 9780473361686

Available on Open Access

Peer Reviewed



In 2015 the threshold learning outcomes (TLOs) for Australian bachelor degree graduates in the discipline of Environment and Sustainability were released. The TLOs encompass four domains (Transdisciplinary Knowledge, Systemic Understanding, Skills for Environment and Sustainability and Ethical Practice) with 15 specific TLOs. In the present study the 15 Environment and Sustainability TLOs were road tested in the workplace via environmental science students’ internship placement. Three stakeholder groups were surveyed (students, the students’ host-supervisors and teaching staff). The groups were asked to provide the level of importance they placed on each TLO and, subsequently, rate student performance. Students rated their own performance. Host-supervisors rated the performance of the student they supervised and teaching staff rated a typical student upon graduation. Importance values of TLOs were similar for all stakeholders, however, teaching staff placed greater importance research skills. Teaching staff and host-supervisors rated student performance lower than students rated their own performance. In the domain Systematic Understanding students rated themselves between Adequate and Proficient while teaching staff and host-supervisors rated performance between Basic and Adequate. Teaching staff and host-supervisors also rated students’ ability to reflect on practice as Adequate while students rated themselves Proficient. The school will use the results of the present study and a study that evaluated the importance and performance of graduate attributes and course learning outcomes to design a new major in waste management. At the time of preparing this abstract only 4 hostsupervisors had completed the survey.