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Career and Technical Education (CTE) | Health Science | NCHSE | Work-Based Learning

What is the NCHSE Work-Based Learning Guide (and is it Right for You)?

November 18th, 2021 | 6 min. read

Brad Hummel

Brad Hummel

Coming from a family of educators, Brad knows both the joys and challenges of teaching well. Through his own teaching background, he’s experienced both firsthand. As a writer for iCEV, Brad’s goal is to help teachers empower their students by listening to educators’ concerns and creating content that answers their most pressing questions about career and technical education.

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Are you a CTE health science teacher looking to add work-based learning (WBL) to your program? If so, you might be unsure about where to begin and how to be successful with WBL. You might have heard that the National Consortium for Health Science Education (NCHSE) offers a work-based learning guide and want more information to help you decide if this resource is appropriate for you.

As a health science curriculum provider and NCHSE partner, teachers often ask us questions about the NCHSE WBL materials.

In this article, we'll provide a complete review of the NCHSE Work-Based Learning Guide to help you decide if this resource is right for you.

Specifically, you’ll find answers to these questions:

  1. What is work-based learning (WBL)?
  2. What type of materials are included in the NCHSE WBL Guide?
  3. What does the NCHSE WBL Guide cost?
  4. What content does the NCHSE WBL Guide cover?
  5. How can the NCHSE WBL Guide help teachers?

After reading, you should have a better idea of what the NCHSE Work-Based Learning Guide includes and if these supplementary curriculum materials are a good fit for your program.

1. What Is Work-Based Learning (WBL)?

According to NCHSE, work-based learning (WBL) “is an instructional strategy that extends classroom instruction and exposes students to careers or aspects of a profession by connecting them to industry professionals.”

Rather than simply learn through a regime of textbooks, lectures, and exams, work-based learning creates an experiential learning environment in which students develop critical skills firsthand by working directly in the area they seek future employment.

Perkins V further clarifies that WBL consists of continued cooperation and relationships with employers or other professionals in a community in actual or simulated work settings. These collaborations provide students with genuine experience in the day-to-day professional operations of their chosen fields while meeting curriculum standards.

Work-based learning is particularly relevant to career and technology education (CTE) pathways because it helps students become adept in working in the same professional settings they will work in during their careers.

NCHSE offers these positive outcomes that students can achieve through work-based learning:

  • Improved academic achievement
  • Exploration of career options
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Real workplace experience and work readiness skills
  • Adult role models
  • Observation and practice of employability skills

When implemented successfully, WBL has the ability to transform learners’ CTE experience and set them on the path to a successful career.

2. What Type of Materials Are Included in the NCHSE WBL Guide?

NCHSE includes several types of materials in its Work-Based Learning Guide. 

  • The foundational resource is the 26-page WBL guide, which contains complete guidance from NCHSE for implementing work-based learning in a CTE health science program.
  • Two overview documents accompany the guide: a description of every resource included with the manual and a list of web resources listed in each section.
  • An array of 45 additional resources teachers can use to make the most of their students’ WBL experiences. Among these materials are student activities, communication templates, and goal-setting documents that provide a framework for establishing successful work-based learning relationships in your community.

Every resource in the NCHSE WBL guide arrives in .docx and .pdf formats.

3. What Does the NCHSE WBL Guide Cost?

NCHSE offers its work-based learning guide to teachers in both member and non-member states.

Teachers from NCHSE member states or who are members of the Health Science Educators Association (HSEA) are eligible to purchase the guide at the discounted price of $150. 

On the other hand, teachers from non-member states who aren’t HSEA members can buy the resources for $200.

4. What Content Does the NCHSE WBL Guide Cover?

The NCHSE work-based learning guide touches on virtually every topic educators want to explore when considering WBL for their CTE programs.

The subjects in the guide span from defining the essential elements of work-based learning to details regarding every aspect of a successful learning experience, along with information to help teachers decide if WBL is an effective solution for their program.

Major topics in the NCHSE WBL guide include:

  • What is Work-based Learning (WBL)?
  • Quality Elements of WBL
  • Benefits of WBL
  • How to Develop and Implement WBL Activities
  • Safety and Legal Requirements
  • Engaging Partners in Collaboration
  • Building Relationships
  • Coordinating Classroom Instruction
  • Using Authentic Experiences to Teach/Reinforce Critical Concepts
  • Alternatives to Clinical Placements
  • Evaluating WBL

The core of the guide centers around what NCHSE terms the Continuum of Experiences. At each stage of the continuum, students engage in appropriate WBL experiences that further prepare them for work in a health science field.

The Continuum of Experiences includes three stages:

  1. Career Awareness - Students recognize possible career options
  2. Career Exploration - Students become aware of every aspect of working in an industry
  3. Career Preparation - Students practice the technical skills of a chosen occupation

The NCHSE resources give concrete examples of positive learning experiences instructors can use to inspire students to consider their future careers. Together with additional career planning and portfolio resources included with the guide, NCHSE helps teachers give students the context and experience they need to make critical career decisions.

5. How Can the NCHSE WBL Guide Help Teachers?

The NCHSE work-based learning guide can be a precious resource for educators interested in provider WBL opportunities for their students.

Because the WBL guide includes lesson plan resources, teachers can turn to NCHSE for help on creating plans for work-based learning experiences. Communication templates provided with the guide can assist teachers and learners in reaching out to potential partners in their areas. 

The NCHSE guide is also great for helping instructors implement activities--such as guest speakers--that inspire students and motivate them to seek out learning opportunities of their own.

Ultimately, the NCHSE WBL Guide is the perfect accompaniment for any teacher looking for wisdom on fostering positive work-based learning experiences while maintaining a structured CTE program that will provide the foundation for success in the future.

Is the NCHSE Work-Based Learning Guide Right for You?


If you’re new to work-based learning, you might be unsure and are curious if you can be successful in implementing WBL in your classroom.

However, Guide to Work-based Learning from the National Consortium for Health Science Education (NCHSE) is an excellent resource that could help teachers like you in the health careers CTE pathway.

While the WBL guide can’t serve as a standalone health science curriculum, it can be a great supplementary resource for educators seeking to add work-based learning opportunities to their program.

By providing important context and background information, the WBL guide can help you make important decisions surrounding work-based learning and help you decide what types of experiences could be a good fit for your CTE program.

As a NCHSE partner, AES also supports work-based learning as an important part of the instructional process for students in career and technical education programs.

If you are interested in discovering more about how you can use AES and WBL initiatives together in your classroom, read this article for 4 Ways AES Supports Work-based Learning for CTE Programs.

Discover 4 Ways AES Supports WBL for CTE Programs >