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CMU practica program recognized in international post-secondary context

CMU’s Christine Kampen Robinson joins elite research seminar to make a more equitable practicum program

Christine Kampen Robinson will represent CMU in the 2022-2024 Research Seminar on Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) at the Center for Engaged Learning at Elon University. Christine Kampen Robinson will represent CMU in the 2022-2024 Research Seminar on Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) at the Center for Engaged Learning at Elon University.

Christine Kampen Robinson, director of practicum; director of the Center for Career and Vocation at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), has been selected to join an elite three-year research seminar focused on work-integrated learning (WIL). The international forum will be hosted and organized by the Center for Engaged Learning at Elon University in North Carolina.

The seminar, in which academics from across the globe will gather to collaborate, investigate, and discuss how to create accessible and high-quality WIL. Using multi-method research, Kampen Robinson and the other participants will conduct quantitative and qualitative studies to gather empirical evidence supporting how WIL positively fosters student learning.

Starting July 2022, participants will meet on the campus of Elon University to research logistics, address discrepancies, and aggregate data. Kampen Robinson says the opportunity to compare WIL programming with other researchers is invaluable. Saying she's eager to learn "how [our data set] from a small liberal arts university in the middle of the prairies compares to an R1 institution in the United States or research-intensive, medium-sized university in Europe."

"When you put a lot of brains together that have different types of training," says Kampen Robinson, "you come out with better data, better recommendations, and better outcomes for everyone compared to if we [researched WIL] on our own."

As someone who has spent years as a career advisor, Kampen Robinson says her enthusiasm for the research seminar comes from her commitment to helping students at CMU find the intersection between their creative passions, career development, and vocational discernment.

Kampen Robinson says CMU is already a step ahead of other institutions in providing students with equitable WIL because of its compulsory career development program. As the only school in Canada that requires every undergraduate student to complete six credit hours of practicum, CMU is a national leader in WIL programming.

"A big part of being employable and finding a job in the Canadian context is your network, and a significant part of that is social capital," says Kampen Robinson. "So, when we talk about equitable access, it's about sharing that social capital around."

"When you look at WIL and co-operative programs across Canada, there are few and far between that provide equitable access to WIL," says Kampen Robinson.

The evidence-based research seminar will provide data that will be used to support students who may not otherwise have access to WIL. Kampen Robinson says that real change can then occur with that evidence. "I'm very excited about generating new usable data about CMU's practicum program so that we can improve it and make changes that are necessary," says Kampen Robinson.

Paul Dyck, interim vice-president academic and academic dean at CMU, says, "I'm excited about Christine's participation in this top-notch seminar on WIL. Our practicum program is a key aspect of education at CMU, and this will allow us to share our insights as well as to hone our program."

As she prepares for the initial convergence at Elon University, Kampen Robinson says she is thinking about the fusion of vocation, identity, and stories. She says she's inspired by the prospect of helping students across the country by sharing the stories and experiences of CMU students.

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