Lesson Introduction

What Is Work-Based Learning (WBL)?

Work-based learning (WBL) is an instructional method that links work experience with school-based instruction to prepare students for both college and career by

  • promoting and developing critical thinking;
  • fostering social and psychological development; and
  • enhancing career- and workplace-related knowledge.

High-quality WBL enhances students’ understanding of classroom theory through participation in its application in the work environment. It gives students the opportunity to engage meaningfully with the work experience and to take responsibility for their learning. 

A high school classroom and a student at a construction site with her supervisor


NOTE: WBL should not be confused with “workplace" or "worksite" learning, which refer to any form of learning that occurs at a worksite.

Four Essential Characteristics of WBL

Example of a WBL Program

Sunlake High School student, Brandon Gould, is learning about electrical engineering by interning at SEL Engineering, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories as part of a CTE WBL program.


Cite Source

WBL vs. Work Release and Work-Study

It’s important to understand what WBL is not. Two terms that some people confuse with WBL are work release and work-study programs. 

Click each term below to learn more.

Benefits of WBL

A student and her employer
Research shows that effective WBL experiences provide clear benefits for students as well as participating employers.




Click each group below to see the benefits for students and employers.

The WBL Teacher’s Role

Teacher and student
Teachers play a key role in keeping work-based learning (WBL) experiences authentic and meaningful for their students. Their work starts well before the school session begins, and continues throughout the school year. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that teachers assigned to coordinate yearlong work experiences for students have extended contracts, because they need to start work before other teaching faculty.




Click each timeframe below for a brief overview of the teacher’s responsibilities.

Quick Check #1

Let's see if you remember what WBL is and what it is not.

Identify the description on each flashcard below as either

  • work-study,
  • work release, or
  • WBL.

Quick Check #2

Lesson Review