How to develop a work-based learning plan

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Work-based learning is an increasingly popular study route for students and professionals who are keen to enhance their qualifications. Without the need to leave behind an existing career, work-based learning students are at a real advantage from day one, and profit from some unique benefits.

  • More motivated – education has a greater sense of purpose
  • Enriched opportunities – to learn, perform and be recognised
  • Experiential learning – students can put newly learned skills and knowledge into practice in the real world immediately. This allows students to gain a deeper understanding of subjects more quickly, as well as benefiting the company that they work for
  • Enhanced confidence and self-esteem – in the workplace and in the classroom


Students who undertake work-based learning courses also face some unique challenges, such as fitting their learning around their existing work and family commitments.

If you’re embarking on a work-based learning course, developing a learning plan can help you get the most from your studies, reducing stress, and improving performance.

Know the course

Step one of your plan should be to get to know your course requirements and course structure. You need to know the number of study hours required each week, and the classroom hours required if you’re studying on campus.

Study timetable

Creating a study timetable is especially helpful when you’re studying via distance learning. A timetable helps you keep tabs on your weekly coursework. It allows you to view your time clearly and divide up your days realistically between study, work, family and leisure time.

When you’re creating your study timetable, write in your work hours and any other essential commitments. Then see how you can fit in the required study hours each week around those.

Note exam times and coursework deadlines – plan to work less in the lead up to these busy times.

You can create your study timetable on paper, online, using spreadsheet software, or using a handy study app. Some apps automatically sync up changes you make to all your gadgets – your laptop, smartphone and/or tablet – so you’re always up to date when you’re on the go.

Work commitments

You need to make sure that your work-study ratio is realistic. If you foresee problems or are finding things stressful, talk to your employer. They may be able to help you rejig your working timetable to fit better with your studies.

Note down your goals

Write down your goals, in terms of your studies and your work. Note down your goals for the week at the start of each week and your goals for the month at the start of each month, as well as a special list of your ultimate goals. Staying goal-focused helps you to stay motivated in several ways:

  • A sense of progress and achievement – your confidence grows as you accomplish your goals
  • Excitement for the future – having goals to look forward to and work towards provides you with continued motivation to learn
  • Helps with clear thinking and performance – having clearly defined goals help to keep us focused

Get organised

Keep things neat and you’ll help to take the stress out of study, whether you prefer working on paper or love your laptop. Folders, poly pockets, labels and files help keep things in order. If you prefer your laptop, make use of desktop folders and subfolders, titling things clearly so you can find what you’re looking for when you need it. Make sure that you back up your work and study resources regularly to an external hard drive and/or to the Cloud, so that your work won’t be lost should your computer fail.

The University of Lincoln Work-Based Learning top-up degrees will help you achieve your career goals and obtain a qualification with a global focus. Find out more about the Lincoln WBDL programmes.

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