Expansion of the CAFCE Mandate

*Note: following a 2017 AGM vote, CAFCE's name was changed to CEWIL (Co-operative Education and Work Integrated Learning) Canada.
The background information for the vote follows.

Proposed Motions


Why are we proposing to expand CAFCE’s mandate from co-operative education to all forms of work-integrated learning?

We have been exploring the expansion of CAFCE’s mandate for a number of years and believe it is the appropriate time to propose such a change.  There are a number of compelling reasons for an expanded mandate including CAFCE’s ability to influence change on a national level and to offer support for members already engaged in other forms of WIL. 

For a more comprehensive overview on the rationale for this proposed change, please see the recent CAFCE town hall on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOnGUldgacQ&t=902s

Why work-integrated learning and not experiential education?

This question was widely debated both at board meetings and at a Directors/Managers meeting.  Experiential education is a broad term that encompasses many in class learning activities including labs, problem based learning, and simulations which don’t necessarily include work or community engagement. It was determined the expertise within our membership is really focused on work-integrated learning – curricular programs which connect students and industry/community. 

Why are we proposing the term “work-integrated learning” instead of “work-integrated education”?

While these two terms are used rather interchangeably in higher education, work-integrated learning is emerging as the more prominent term both nationally and internationally. 

Some examples:

  • Employment and Social Development Canada’s Student Work-Integrated Learning Program (SWILP)
  • Business Higher Education Roundtable’s WIL in action goal: http://bher.ca/wil-in-action
  • The Asia Pacific Journal of Co-operative Education is changing its name to the International Journal of Work-Integrated Learning.

What is the rationale for the proposed definition of work-integrated learning?

Proposed definition: “Work-integrated learning" is a model and process of education which formally and intentionally integrates a student's academic studies with learning in a workplace or practice setting.

The proposed definition of work-integrated learning draws heavily from CAFCE’s original definition of co-operative education but adds a few components which extend the definition to encompass other forms of work-integrated learning. We believe the proposed definition is comprehensive while still being straightforward – hallmarks of CAFCE’s original definition of co-operative education.

In developing this proposed definition, the board also reviewed numerous current definitions of WIL including the one proposed by the Business/Higher Education Roundtable (“Work-integrated learning is the process through which students come to learn from experiences in educational and practice settings. It includes the kinds of curriculum and pedagogic practices that can assist, provide, and effectively integrate learning experiences in both settings”) and Employment and Social Development Canada’s SWILP program (“Refers to a continuum of learning opportunities ranging from structured work experience to instances where the employer engages directly with the post-secondary education institution to address a particular challenge. It can include co-op placements, internships, field placements, or applied projects to solve a particular problem for employers.”) We believe that the proposed definition contains all of the required elements articulated in these other endorsed definitions.

As has happened with the definition of co-op, we expect the definition of work-integrated learning to evolve in future years.

Why do the by-law amendments not include definitions for or examples of other forms of work-integrated learning?

While CAFCE clearly defines the criteria for co-op programs in Canada, similar clarity and consistency of definitions does not exist for other forms of work-integrated learning. Defining and setting standards for other forms of work-integrated learning will be a key priority for the organization if it votes to expand its mandate.

Why do the proposed by-law amendments include specific reference to co-operative education when it is a form of work-integrated learning?

Co-op is the foundational model of work-integrated learning for our organization. Consultation with CAFCE members indicated that a motion to broaden the organization’s mandate should keep co-operative education separate and prominent. As such, the proposed by-law revisions retain references to co-operative education and add work-integrated learning to reflect increased scope. The definition of a co-op program remains intact. No changes to the accreditation criteria or process for co-op programs are proposed. 

What is the rationale for the addition of a Work-Integrated Learning Director-at-Large?

The Work-Integrated Learning Director-at-Large positions follow the model of University Director-at-Large and College Director-at-Large positions on the CAFCE board. These positions allow for dedicated representation on the board for a subset of constituents (i.e., work-integrated learning). While the composition of the board may evolve in subsequent years, the board believes it is very important to add at least one position which focuses on and advocates for WIL, and brings WIL related knowledge and expertise to the board.

Why is Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada the proposed name?  Were other names discussed?

Both the board and the Directors/Managers group explored many different names. Consultation revealed that members of our association feel that a new name needs to reflect our historical and ongoing commitment to co-operative education, along with our new broader WIL mandate.

What future work will be required should these proposed revisions be adopted?

The motions being proposed at the 2017 AGM really only set the stage for an expanded mandate. They allow us to consider broader questions for our organization including defining and determining best practices for other forms of work-integrated learning.  Additional questions of governance, committee structures, professional development and awards will be explored in future years.