Skip to content Skip to navigation Skip to footer

Tips for Work-Based Learning @ CSU

This page will have tips for CSU faculty/staff interested in providing work-based learning (WBL) opportunities. Topics include WBL in grants, how to get high schoolers paid, mentoring suggestions, etc. We are continually adding to this page, so check back often for any updates.

Work-Based Learning in Federal Grants

Work-based learning opportunities can be included in many federal grant proposals, allowing student participants to get paid and helps strengthen the overall grant proposal. Below are common federal sponsors and how Principal Investigators can incorporate work-based learning opportunities.

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Work-based learning opportunities fit wonderfully into National Science Foundation’s (NSF) proposals, no matter the solicitation. As discussed in our second post of the “Broadening Participation and Broader Impacts” series, although most sources of funding, including both federal agencies and private foundations, expect a proposal to discuss the impact, significance, or relevance of the proposed work, the NSF is currently the only federal agency in the U.S. that has an explicit broader impacts requirement for their proposals.

Broader impacts – the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.NSF PAPPG 22-1

For this reason, a work-based learning opportunity can be a component of a researcher’s broader impacts section and depending on the type, could have the following benefits:

  • Increasing broadening participation (if there is a recruitment plan in place to specifically target underrepresented groups)
  • Recruitment (need evidence of this)
  • Retention (need evidence of this)

If the work-based learning opportunity includes multi-week intensive experiences during the summer before high schooler graduates, these are akin to bridge programs that serve as the “bridge” between secondary and postsecondary education pathways.

Positive student outcomes from bridge programs include increased interest in STEM (Thompson and Consi, 2007Bruno et al., 2016Pritchard et al., 2016) relationship building between student and faculty members (Maton et al., 2000Wischusen et al., 2011Lenaburg et al., 2012Pritchard et al., 2016), development of research skills (Gilmer, 2007Russomanno et al., 2010Windsor et al., 2015Graham et al., 2017), knowledge gained regarding STEM careers (Wechsler et al., 2005Winkleby et al., 2009Baber et al., 2010), knowledge gained about the college application process (Baber et al., 2010), and increased self-efficacy (Bruno et al., 2016Maton et al., 2016).

If the work-based learning opportunity is modeled after bridge programs, albeit with a smaller number of participants, researchers can increase their chances of creating positive student outcomes.

Budget Considerations:

If a researcher wants to provide a stipend for their WBL student, the expense can be budgeted as participant support costs, and therefore not be charged indirect/F&A.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supports research, education and Extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations.

The inclusion of a work-based learning opportunity within USDA-NIFA is dependent on the grants program a researcher is applying to, with some programs valuing education and workforce development above other priorities. One such program is the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative – Education and Workforce Development (EWD) that focuses on developing the next generation of research, education, and extension professionals in the food and agricultural sciences. One of the four overarching goals of AFRI EWD is developing pathways that could be fulfilled by a work-based learning program.

Developing Pathways seeks to support the development of non-formal education activities that cultivate interest and build public confidence in the safe and enhanced use of technology in food and agricultural sciences. See Program Area Description in Part 1, C, 3 for “Food and Agricultural Non-formal Education” (Program Code A7801). – FY21-AFRI-EWD-RFA

The United States Department of Defense (DOD)
The United States Department of Energy (DOE)
The United States Department of Education (ED)
Environmental Protection Agency

Successful Work-Based Learning Examples

We will be adding to this section periodically. If you have an example of a successful WBL program, let us know by filling out this CONTACT US form.

Georgia Tech’s REAL Program

Georgia Tech’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC) initiated the REAL Program to provide summer STEM research internships for rising high school juniors and seniors. Students primarily from populations underrepresented in STEM spend five weeks in a Georgia Tech laboratory, conducting research under the guidance of a Georgia Tech professor, their teacher, and a Georgia Tech graduate student.

REAL students are encouraged to use their summer experiences as the basis for STEM research papers submitted to local and state science fair competitions. Students also enter their research into the national Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology, an annual science research competition administered by The College Board and funded by the Siemens Foundation, that offers a top prize of $100,000 scholarship.

To learn more about the REAL program, and other K-12 initiatives of CEISMC, check out their website.