Essential Tips for Graduates Looking to Start a Career in Consulting

Consulting is a popular career choice for graduates, offering a unique and exciting opportunity to help clients achieve their goals.

However, starting on the right foot can be challenging. The industry is known for its high expectations and demanding work schedule—so if you hope to succeed, it’s crucial to be on the ball and know what to expect.

Whether you’re interested in becoming a financial consultant, a management consultant, or another type, this article will help you gather all the information you need before you embark on your career journey.

Let’s start with a quick rundown of the industry.

Career in consulting

What is consulting?

Consulting involves the provision of professional, specialist, and independent advice to businesses, organisations, and individuals. A person might hire a consultant to improve their business’s performance or better manage their funds.

Consultants typically have specialised knowledge and experience in a particular field, such as human resources, technology, management, marketing, or finance. They will use this advice to help clients solve complex problems and achieve their goals.

The consulting industry is a fast-paced and often challenging environment, requiring long hours of work and frequent travel. However, the rewards can be lucrative, making it an appealing career choice for anyone interested in helping people.

Why do companies hire consultants?

Businesses often engage consultants to help them make informed decisions. For example, a company struggling with stagnant growth might hire a consultant to help them devise a new growth strategy and identify areas for improvement.

Specifically, the company might work with a marketing consultant to create a social media advertising plan. The consultant will help the business pin down their target market and execute effective campaigns, bringing in more customers and stimulating growth.

As another example, human resources consultants can offer helpful advice for businesses, including:

  • Best hiring practices,
  • How to effectively train employees,
  • Productivity plans,
  • Employee retention strategies.

Overall, consultants aim to help businesses improve operations, reduce costs, increase revenue, and achieve goals.

Are there different types of consultants?

Within specialties, there are three main types of consultants—those who work in-house, externally, and for a firm. Let’s go into more detail about these positions now.

In-house or internal

In-house consultants work exclusively for one organisation, rather than consulting firms that serve multiple clients. They’re responsible for providing consulting services for their company.

For example, an IT consultant might work within the company’s IT department, helping staff implement new software, solve technical issues, and make changes to advance the company’s technological growth.

An in-house consultant might also work in the finance department, providing expert advice on financial analysis and planning for their organisation.

Working as an in-house consultant is a smart choice if you’re looking for a stable and rewarding career.

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Rather than work for a company, external consultants work independently, either as self-employed contractors or for a firm. Organisations and companies will hire these consultants to work for them temporarily—they’re not considered employees of the company they work for.

Businesses will often bring in external consultants to provide expertise that is unavailable within their own employee cohort—such as specialist financial or management advice.

If you choose to work as an external consultant, companies might hire you to perform services such as:

  • Strategy development and implementation,
  • Assistance with an acquisition or merger,
  • Conducting market research projects,
  • Training employees and streamlining the hiring process,
  • Project management,
  • Identifying technology solutions,
  • Business administration,
  • Enhancing business processes,
  • Establishing a new business,
  • Community outreach planning and implementation.

You may prefer an external role if you value flexibility, want the opportunity to work from home or in a hybrid environment, and enjoy collaborating with a range of people from different industries and backgrounds.

Working for a consulting firm

One way you can work as an external consultant is by joining a consulting firm. You’ll still be able to follow a flexible schedule and work with a broad range of people, but many consulting firms are largely responsible for finding clients.

You’ll have less control over your schedule and workload than you would as a freelance, independent consultant, but finding stable clients may be easier. To decide whether you’d prefer to work as a freelance consultant or for a firm, consider what matters most to you—stability or independence?

Whichever path you choose, you’ll provide similar services, such as project management, organisational change, or process improvement, depending on your field of expertise.

Working in a consulting firm

Benefits of consulting jobs

Consulting work can be challenging, engaging, and rewarding—a role where you’re always learning, building skills, and meeting new people. Let’s go into a little more detail about the career’s key benefits now.


Consulting can be a highly flexible career option, especially if you choose to work independently. You’ll have significant control over your schedule, workload, and choice of clients. So if you’re the type of person who likes to take a few days off during the week and work weekends—or work at night rather than during the day—consulting is a great option for you!

Exposure to different people and companies

Because consulting is such a broad-reaching industry—covering fields including finance, marketing, management, and information technology—you’ll have the opportunity to work with people and companies from many different walks of life.


If you love people, consulting is the career for you! As a consultant, you’ll be able to network with people from a range of industries, including senior consultants. These connections can be extremely valuable as you progress through your career.

Consulting can be tough, and it’s not for everyone

While consulting is an interesting and fruitful career, it’s not for everyone. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Long hours and travel requirements: Consulting often requires long work hours, with demand fluctuating throughout the year. You may also need to travel to client sites, which can affect your work-life balance.
  2. Client interaction: If you’re not a people person, consulting probably isn’t the career for you. Most positions are client-facing, so you’ll need to have excellent interpersonal and presentation skills.
  3. Pressure and demand: Consultants often work against tight deadlines and high client expectations. You’ll need to be adaptable and resilient to succeed in the field.

We recommend carefully considering the demands of a consulting job and whether it aligns with your skills, goals, and values before you pursue consulting as a career.

Top skills needed to be a successful management consultant

If you’re still weighing up whether a consulting career is right for you, these are the skills you’ll need to boost your employability in the field.


Complex problems often require creative solutions. Good consultants use their creativity to develop innovative solutions, actively learn and grow, and communicate effectively, helping individuals and businesses achieve success.

Conceptual and practical thinking

Using conceptual and practical thinking skills, consultants can understand difficult problems and apply their reasoning in practical ways. For example, a professional consultant should be able to gather information about a client’s industry and business and provide relevant recommendations.


Above, we talked about the client-facing nature of consulting careers. Since you’ll be working directly with business owners and stakeholders and performing client management work, strong communication skills are crucial for getting your message across and building positive client relationships.


Consulting involves presenting ideas and strategies to clients. Presentation skills will help you persuade clients to adopt your solutions, reflecting positively on your capabilities as a consultant.

Delivering memorable, impactful and engaging presentations in a professional manner will also help you stand out against competitors and land more clients.


Collaboration skills can help you in all aspects of your consulting career, from working in teams to managing client relationships. You’ll often work with other professionals, sharing skills and experiences while working towards a common goal.

To succeed when working with others, you’ll need to be able to listen actively, provide constructive feedback, and express your ideas clearly to people from a range of backgrounds.

Organisation and time management

Consulting is a demanding career path that often involves strict deadlines and tight schedules. You simply won’t succeed in the industry if you’re not organised!

Let’s say you’re working with a client to implement a new marketing strategy. You’ll need to develop a project plan, outline key milestones, and assign responsibilities—all within a set timeframe. You’ll also need to track progress and identify potential roadblocks.

Good organisation and time management skills can help you manage these tasks without overworking yourself or falling behind.

Preparing for a consulting career

How can graduates prepare for a career in consulting?

If you have a strong work ethic and good people skills, you’re already well on your way to a successful career in consulting. Here are some tips to get yourself prepared for the working world:

  • Gain relevant experience: Landing a position without relevant experience can be difficult. Internship programs, volunteer work, and placements can help you gain relevant experience, build skills, and network before graduation—giving you an enormous leg-up over other applicants!
  • Develop your soft skills: While hard skills in your chosen field are important, soft skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership are important too. University projects are a fantastic way to work on your abilities in these areas.
  • Practice, practice, practice: We highly recommend practising case interviews and other common elements of consulting work. You can ask your peers, tutors, or professors for help in this area.

Overall, the best way to prepare for your future consulting career is to gain relevant skills and experience, network with industry leaders, and practice. By following these steps, you’ll seriously increase your chances of success in the competitive consulting field.

How can educators support students aiming for a consulting career?

One of the best ways educators can support students aiming for a consulting career is to provide them with pathways for skill-building and experience. Offer relevant courses and programs, such as internship opportunities and classes in areas such as business, finance, data analysis, problem-solving, and strategies.

Mentorship and guidance from educators are also crucial here. Providing advice on which courses to take, which skills to focus on, and the demands of a consulting career can help students enter the workforce with confidence.

For more information on industry experience programs for budding consultants—and to sign up for a free trial—visit Practera’s educators portal. Students can check out current industry experience programs here.

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Examples of Job Qualifications: What Skills Do Employers Want?

If you want to succeed in today’s competitive job landscape, you’ll need specific skills, assets, and knowledge to get ahead. We call these abilities ‘job qualifications’.

Employers value applicants with credible qualifications because they refer to a person’s relevant experience, personal attributes, and skills necessary to succeed in a job.

In this article, you’ll find out more about job qualifications, including specific examples of the skills employers want.

What are job qualifications?

Job qualifications include skills, experience, and formal certifications you may need to land and maintain a career. Some examples include:

  • Hard skills such as computer programming, engineering, or accounting,
  • Soft skills like communication and teamwork,
  • Degrees from university or college,
  • Certificates from vocational schools, TAFE, or community colleges.

Without at least a few relevant job qualifications, graduates are unlikely to succeed when applying for jobs. You’ll usually find a list of the required qualifications and job responsibilities in the listed job description.

Types of job qualifications

There’s no such thing as an ‘unskilled’ job. While a particular position may not require technical knowledge or training, you’ll still benefit from industry experience and universal job skills like time management, problem-solving, organisation, and critical thinking.

You probably already have many of these skills already in your repertoire—the important thing is to know how to show them off! Add some of these skills to your resume’s qualifications summary to increase your chances of job success.

Tangible qualifications

Tangible qualifications are those we can see or touch, such as university degrees or TAFE certifications. You can physically produce a legal document to prove you have completed training in a given subject or discipline.

These qualifications are a great way to show your dedication and job-relevant skills to employers. However, in our competitive landscape, degrees and certifications usually aren’t enough to land a job. With more than 40% of Australians aged 20 to 34 holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, graduates must do more to stand out.

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Intangible qualifications

You can’t see or touch intangible qualifications, but they still exist—just not on paper! These qualifications can include unrecorded work experience, life experience, and soft skills like leadership or flexibility.

Unless you’ve completed a specific course, you’re unlikely to have a tangible record of your problem-solving capabilities or your fantastic teamwork skills. Instead, you’ll need to know how to communicate these assets to a hiring manager through examples and persuasive language.

Hard skills

Hard skills are physical abilities or technical skills that we can easily quantify. For example, it’s easy to measure a person’s typing speed through an online test with quantitive results, making it a hard skill.

Here are a few other hard skills that can help you get ahead in the challenging job market.

Computer literacy

Computer literacy describes a person’s ability to use and understand technology, including computers, smartphones, and computerised machinery.

Today, this skill is crucial for success in almost all fields of work. For example, accountants must know how to use specialised software like MYOB and Xero, while electricians must be able to use electronic devices such as testing probes and peripherals.

Strong computer literacy skills will help you quickly adapt to any software or hardware you need to use in your career and smoothly transition through future technological advances.

computer skills as a job qualification


While communication is a soft skill, language proficiency is a hard skill, especially in terms of foreign languages. According to the Diplomatic Academy, language speaking proficiency ratings in Australia range from S0+ (ability to satisfy basic needs through rehearsed phrases) to S4+ (near equivalency to a well-educated and articulate native speaker).

If your chosen career path involves interacting with coworkers and clients from different backgrounds, building your foreign language proficiency skills is a fantastic way to get a leg up over other job seekers.

Soft skills

Soft skills, also known as core skills, common skills, or power skills, are not usually measurable. They are capabilities and assets that will help you succeed in any profession—and even in daily life.

While some soft skills are innate and part of your personality, you can still build upon them, usually through real-world experience or training programs.

Let’s dive deeper into some soft employability skills hiring managers include in job postings now.

Communication and interpersonal skills

Communication skills allow you to effectively share ideas, information, and feelings with other people. More specifically, communication is a set of skills including:

  • Body language
  • Listening skills
  • Confidence
  • Open-mindedness
  • Respect and understanding

Good communication skills can help you draft a compelling resume, pass interviews with ease, and advance in your career. Requesting information, working as a team, and discussing problems all require solid communication capabilities. 


If you’re an adaptable person, you can rise up to new situations and conditions with confidence. It is an especially crucial skill in the modern working world, where technologies, systems, and processes are always changing.

Adaptability allows you to adjust plans and objectives to suit new priorities or meet changing obligations. For example, you may need to shuffle your to-do list to meet a client’s updated deadline or quickly learn a new software program on-the-job.

Job descriptions often call for qualified candidates with strong adaptability skills because they can channel change into success, reducing downtime and encouraging innovation. 


Resilience describes a person’s ability to cope with crises and ‘bounce back’ from difficult situations. Challenges are inevitable in the workplace—from disagreements with colleagues to heavy workloads—so employers deeply value employees who can manage problems with professionalism and a positive attitude.

Time management

Time management skills are a common job posting addition. These skills allow you to handle all the tasks life throws at you without becoming stressed or overwhelmed. In the workplace, managing time might involve prioritising tasks by level of urgency, delegating or deleting those that are unimportant.

You can demonstrate your time management skills in an interview by arriving on time and coming prepared with notes and questions to ask the interviewer.

Time management as a job qualification

Australian requirements

In Australia, some roles have specific legal requirements, especially if you’ll be working with vulnerable parties such as children or people with disabilities. Two common requirements are the Working with Children Check and the National Police Check.

Working with Children Check

According to the Government of South Australia’s Screening Unit, Working with Children Checks determine whether a person poses an “unacceptable risk to children”. The Screening Unit will check an individual’s child protection information, criminal history, and other data to make their assessment.

Working with Children Checks last for five years. You may require an assessment if you work in a prescribed position, which means you work with or are likely to work with children.

Examples of jobs and professions that may require Working with Children Checks include childcare, education, social work, babysitting, healthcare, children’s party services, and counselling.

National Police Check

A National Police Check or National Police Certificate provides a summary of a person’s offender history in Australia. Only organisations accredited by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission may perform these checks.

Some industries that may require National Police Checks include childcare, government, aged care, education, correction, law, liquor sales, vehicle sales, healthcare, financial services, and mining.


Education is one of the most common ways to acquire tangible job qualifications. In Australia, most people achieve tertiary accreditations through TAFE (Technical and Further Education) or university.


TAFE colleges provide certifications for students who successfully complete certain levels of education. You can achieve these certifications through award courses, which provide graduates with qualifications recognised by the Australian Qualifications Framework.

These qualifications include the following:

  • Certificate I
  • Certificate II
  • Certificate III
  • Certificate IV
  • Diploma
  • Advanced Diploma

Each award is essentially a step up from the previous option. For example, a person with a Certificate IV qualification is likely to have more specialised and in-depth knowledge and skill than a person with a Certificate II qualification.

University degree

University degrees are a step up from an advanced diploma, offering the highest levels of education available in Australia. The available degree levels are:

  • Associates Degree
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Master’s Degree
  • Doctoral Degree

Like certificates, each degree level requires more time and more in-depth study than the previous. Some industries have specific degree prerequisites, such as Medicine, which requires a Doctoral Degree (Ph. D).

Work experience

In many cases, work experience is even more important to employers than degrees and certifications. Real-world experience shows hiring managers that you understand the ins and outs of your industry.

The best way to gain relevant experience before graduation is through programs such as internships, working or studying abroad, volunteer work, and job placements. 

Examples of job qualifications

Examples of job qualifications

Now, let’s go through some specific examples of qualifications you may need for certain career paths.

  1. If you want to work as a Physician, you’ll need to complete a Ph. D in Medicine, complete a one to two-year residency in a hospital or community practice, and register with the Medical Board of Australia.
  2. Budding electricians will typically need at least a Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician (via an apprenticeship) and an Electrician’s License. Many employers will also require on-the-job experience.
  3. Administration managers will often need experience in administration work, strong computer literacy, a fast typing speed, and soft skills like communication, time management, and organisation.

How Practera can help

Practera is a Project Learning Technology enabled organisation that can connect you with real-world learning opportunities, internships, work placements, and industry experience programs.

Enrolling in one of these programs will allow you to gain in-demand skills employers are recruiting for and provide you with real talking points for your CV/next job applications, participating & learning as a student consultant to solve various real-world business challenges from driving technological innovation, creating new funding opportunities, finding new market expansion pathways to encouraging sustainability. You’ll also have exposure to various real-life business scenarios an experience valuable to most employers across industries and sectors you will also have access to industry-experienced mentors and a dedicated Practera programs manager to help you successfully navigate the program and provide you with guidance to ace your next interviews and accelerate your career.

If you’re a student, check out our government-backed student programs to sign up for free and kick-start your career.

If you’re an educator looking to boost your student’s chances of success or increase student engagement, you can try our industry experience program for freecontact the Practera team or download our white paper to learn more about project-based learning programs.

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The Benefits of Internship Placements: How You Can Accelerate Your Career

If you’re looking for a way to accelerate your career and boost your chances of landing a full-time job after graduation, internships offer the perfect opportunity. Not only will you develop job-ready skills, but you’ll also enhance your resume, make crucial connections, and obtain many other benefits.

In this article, you’ll learn what internships are, why they are beneficial for students, and how to find opportunities within your industry.

What is an internship?

An internship is a type of work experience organisations offer for a fixed period, typically ranging from a single day to several months. While these placements were originally intended only for medical graduating seniors, internships are now available across all industries and disciplines – both virtually and in-person.

The idea behind an internship is to provide students with meaningful, practical work experience relevant to their field of interest or chosen career path. Some internships are unpaid, while others offer varying degrees of compensation.

To differentiate internships from employment, interns must gain their fair share of benefits from their time with the organisation. For example, the intern may receive comprehensive training and observe others on the job, providing them with job-ready skills.

Productive work that predominantly benefits the organisation is typically considered an employment relationship rather than an internship.

Benefits of internships in university

The benefits of internship experience for students

Internships offer many benefits for students, including relevant experience, potential job offers, and increased confidence. Let’s go into more detail about several of these benefits now.

Job and industry experience

One of the main benefits of internship opportunities is meaningful industry experience. Many employers seek applicants with experience, which many graduates just entering the working world won’t have.

By completing an internship before you graduate, you can give yourself a leg up over other applicants and impress employers with your real-world experience!


Mentorship is an invaluable way to gain insider knowledge of an industry and build highly relevant skills. An experienced mentor can help you approach your internship confidently, gain new perspectives, and learn the best steps forward in your chosen career.

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Research experience

Research skills help you find, evaluate, and present information relevant to a certain topic.  These skills can help you define problems and identify solutions based on real evidence.

Thorough research abilities are essential in the working world. Even if your career path doesn’t involve research specifically, the skills can still help you make better decisions in the workplace. 

You can also use your research skills to learn more about organisations you’d like to work for, boosting your chances of interview success.


You’ve probably heard the age-old phrase, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. This saying rings true in the working world. Often, the most surefire way to find out about available positions—and land a job—is through someone you know.

The internship experience is a fantastic way to meet influential people within your industry and build a strong professional network before graduation. Your job network may even lead you directly to an employment opportunity!

Access to various resources

Internships provide access to a range of useful resources, including software, equipment, and other tools of the trade. You’ll have the opportunity to learn how to use these tools, helping you stand out among competing applicants in future employment opportunities.

For example, computer science students may have access to key software like MATLAB and Autodesk. Hands-on experience with these programs is often essential for interview success.

Guidance on your career path

If you’re unclear on your career goals, internships are a fantastic way to find guidance. Discuss your career goals, educational qualifications, and skill set with your internship contacts, and receive in-depth advice on the best way to move forward.

Your insider experience can also help you decide whether your chosen career path is truly right for you. Even if you consider a career switch after your internship, you’ll still have enjoyed valuable insights and clarity about your goals.

Career accelerating

Many graduates begin their careers with low confidence and little to no experience. Position yourself leaps and bounds above the rest by completing an internship before you graduate.

Your internship experience will mean you can skip through basic career training, running full steam ahead into your career with fresh confidence. You might even enjoy a higher starting salary! 

Build your resume

If you haven’t had a job before, your resume likely looks quite empty. You might try to bulk it up with volunteer work, hobbies, college education, and awards, but nothing impresses hiring managers more than relevant experience.

Internships make a convincing addition to your resume, proving to employers that you have valuable experience in your industry. If you complete industry projects during your internship, you can also use them to demonstrate your skills and influence—or to build your portfolio.

Transition to a permanent full-time job

For many students, the transition from study to full-time work can be quite jarring. While student life is often varied, with ever-changing schedules and regular breaks, full-time employment is usually much more consistent.

Completing an internship can help you lean into the rhythm of full-time work before you begin employment, ensuring a smooth transition.

Benefits of internships for full-time jobs

Virtual learning experience

Over the past three years, we’ve seen a major shift towards a virtual work environment. In fact, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than 40% of employed Australians worked from home regularly during the first half of August 2021.

Virtual internships are a great way to gain job-ready skills from home and learn how the modern, digitally-driven workplace runs. You’ll especially benefit from these opportunities if your schedule makes in-person internships difficult, or if you live in a remote area.

These internships offer many of the same benefits as traditional placements, including networking opportunities and resource access. You’ll also learn skills to make working from home easier, like digital literacy, independence, self-motivation, and communication. 

Talking points for future interviews

Interviewing for internship positions is a great way to build up your skills and gain confidence for future job interviews. You can also seek guidance from your career mentor to develop interview skills such as:

  • Preparation and organisation
  • Research
  • Professionalism
  • Confidence
  • Communication
  • Listening skills
  • Punctuality and time management

You’ll also gain insight into the type of applicants interviewers look for within your industry—and what questions to ask to demonstrate your knowledge and interest.

Build your real-world experience

The key benefit of internships—and one that stands out among all others—is the opportunity to gain real-world experience.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to connect classroom learning with real-world scenarios. For example, graphic design students might learn how to create an eye-catching logo—but the logo won’t have much meaning until you attach it to a real business!

Through an internship, the same graphic design students could work with an agency to produce a logo for a real client, creating a meaningful connection between theory and practice.

What skills do you gain from an internship?

Internships can help you build skills highly applicable to your career path, along with soft skills that will help you across all career paths—and daily life, too!

You’ll develop:

  • Interpersonal skills, i.e. how to interact with clients, customers, stakeholders, staff, and bosses,
  • Digital literacy, i.e. finding, analysing, and communicating information via digital platforms; using technology efficiently,
  • Prioritising and multi-tasking, i.e. balancing your workload to avoid burnout and meet deadlines,
  • Problem-solving, i.e. how to solve issues ranging from technical glitches to customer complaints.

These skills will help you enter your future career with confidence—and accelerate your growth as you move up the ladder.

Frequently asked questions about internships

If you’re still unsure about whether an internship is right for you, you’ll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions here.

How much time does it take to complete an internship?

There’s no recommended length for internships—it all depends on the type of placement, your industry, and the organisation’s needs. Placements can last for a single day to an entire year!

For example, summer internships take place over the summer break, while work experience placements may only last a week or two.

Paid internships are typically longer than unpaid opportunities. You can expect paid placements to last for about one academic term, or six months, while unpaid internships rarely last longer than a few weeks.

How do I find an internship?

Finding internships is easy in today’s highly connected world. Your main options are:

  • Recommendations from family, friends, fellow students, and mentors,
  • Placements arranged by your university,
  • Searching for opportunities online,
  • Enrolling in industry experience programs, such as those offered by Practera.

Benefits of internships in higher education for students

Finding an internship through Practera

Practera’s industry experience programs make it easier than ever to connect with organisations within your industry. By enrolling for free in one of our government-backed live programs, you can work with professional contacts from a huge range of sectors.

Past members of Practera’s programs have enjoyed benefits such as enhanced social and professional connections, deeper motivation, real industry experience that employers value, virtual and remote working skills and a strong resume. You’ll also learn how to better present your skills, credentials, and experience in interview scenarios, seriously boosting your chances of landing your dream job after graduation!

To learn more about these programs and sign up for free, visit our student programs page. For educators looking to boost employability skills among students, get in touch with the Practera team or download our white paper to learn more about the benefits of experiential learning. Or educators can pilot our industry experience programs for free here.

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What Skills Are Employers Looking For in Graduates?

In 2022, more applicants than ever before hold higher education qualifications. This jump in education levels and experience creates more job market competition—so how can graduates stand out and succeed?

Well, it all starts with employability skills—broad-reaching abilities and competencies that help graduates impress employers and secure a job.

In this article, we’ll lay down the top employability skills employers look for today so you can land a job straight after graduation.

What are employability skills?

Employability skills are a set of capabilities employers use to determine whether a candidate is suitable for a job. Some employability skills apply to multiple industries, while others are specific to certain career paths.

These capabilities can branch beyond typical technical skills, extending into personal qualities, values, and personality traits. For example, many employers seek out applicants who are passionate about their industry and motivated to succeed.

While these aren’t new skills, they’re becoming increasingly important as job duties increase and competition soars.

You might also hear employability skills referred to as soft, enterprise, or workplace skills. Whatever you call them, they’re critical for success in the modern working world.

What skills do employers want?

Skills employers look for translate into productivity, passion, and participation in the workplace. Abilities that help employees solve problems and manage conflicts are also essential since these 21st-century skills encourage a more positive and inclusive working environment.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the top graduate employability skills today’s employers look for—plus some tips on how you can work on them.

Students developing skills employers are looking for

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is all about rationalisation and analysis. A person with strong critical thinking skills can solve problems and form solutions by making informed judgments about something they say, hear, read, or write.

Critical thinkers don’t take what they hear at face value. They don’t automatically believe everything they see or read. That’s why it’s such a crucial skill—it discourages false, misleading judgments while encouraging deeper understanding.

In the workplace, critical thinking enhances problem-solving, reduces the likelihood of errors and inconsistencies, and promotes multiple views and perspectives.

You can build your critical thinking skills through active learning activities and class discussions. Consider open-ended questions and consider different ideas and perspectives when brainstorming solutions.


Each day, we communicate with colleagues, bosses, other students, neighbours, family, friends… the list goes on. But in terms of higher education employability, communication goes well beyond a morning hello!

Effective communication includes:

  • Active listening,
  • Clarity and volume,
  • Confidence,
  • Emotional intelligence,
  • Interpersonal skills,
  • A positive attitude,
  • Openness to giving and receiving feedback,
  • Respect and empathy,
  • Understanding nonverbal cues,
  • Responsiveness.

These skills ensure all members of a conversation feel equal and understood, which is critical for fostering an inclusive and motivating working environment. Employers value employees with strong communication skills because they can give and receive feedback well, share ideas, and build customer and client relationships.

Building communication skills is similar to developing your critical thinking abilities—through active listening and group work. Experience learning techniques are especially important here, since they focus on feedback, self-assessment, and analysis.

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Time management

Time management involves organising and planning how to divide time between different projects and activities. It’s a critical skill in workplaces managing multiple projects at once.

Good time management skills ensure all concurrent projects receive an appropriate amount of attention, ensuring positive outcomes. On the other hand, poor time management skills could result in one project receiving more attention than another, leading to weaker outcomes and poor impressions on clients.

There are several ways to improve your time management skills and prepare yourself for heavy workloads. Personal and class calendars are a great idea, allowing you to keep track of project dates and homework assignments. Also make sure to set aside time to work on tasks, ordering them by the level of urgency—and don’t forget to schedule regular breaks!

Teamwork & collaboration

Nearly all workplaces require employees to work in teams, directly in indirectly. Whether projects involve physically working together or simply sharing ideas, teamwork skills are essential.

Group projects are the best way to build collaboration skills and learn how to work well with your peers. When working as a team, make sure to:

  • Establish the project’s purpose (a “Why”),
  • Set and agree on a common goal,
  • Assign and clarify roles,
  • Share ideas and objectives,
  • Be flexible,
  • Recognise and reward contributions.

Project-based and work-integrated learning are fantastic options here thanks to their focus on meaningful collaboration.

Digital literacy

With today’s working world driven by technology, digital literacy and research skills are an absolute must. This skill describes a person’s ability to discover, analyse, and communicate information via digital platforms, including social media and search engines.

Digital literacy is crucial for communicating with staff members, bosses, and clients via email, virtual chat platforms, and other digital tools. Employers also look for applicants who understand online safety and know how to protect their data online.

One great way to build digital literacy skills is through online research projects. You’ll need to use search engines and other digital resources to find reliable information. Focus on using smart strategies for evaluating sources critically, reviewing peer-reviewed sources such as Google Scholar.

It’s important to acknowledge here that you may vary levels of technological fluency and access compared to other students—make sure to communicate these needs with your learning institution before beginning digital literacy lessons.


Problem-solving skills allow you to overcome obstacles, find solutions, and achieve goals. Problems can range from simple inconveniences to broad-reaching issues requiring complex analysis.

In the workplace, problem-solving skills can help employees analyse and discover the cause of an issue, generate potential solutions, implement plans, and assess how well the plans worked. The skill is essential for everything from handling customer complaints to fixing IT issues.

If you’re keen to improve your problem-solving skills, consider the problem-solving sequence: define the problem → brainstorm solutions → choose a solution → test the solution → evaluate the outcome → repeat if necessary.

Remember documenting what doesn’t work is just as important as what does. Also, keep in mind that the process often matters more than the end product.

Skill development for employers


Decision-making skills are essential for making rational choices. Employees, especially those striving towards leadership roles, must demonstrate confident decision-making abilities.

Good decision-makers in the workplace look beyond their values and perspectives, considering the impact a decision could have on other employees, customers, and the organisation itself. They consider facts, consequences, and alternatives before choosing a way forward.

Developing decision-making and leadership skills goes hand in hand with problem-solving approaches—identifying problems, gathering information, and brainstorming possible solutions. Remember that decisions should follow thorough research and analysis from multiple perspectives.


Adaptability, and a similar skill called learning agility, refers to an individual’s ability to adapt to new situations. If you’re adaptable, you can take changes in stride and confidently approach fresh challenges.

Adaptability is important because changes happen all the time in the workplace—staff changes, promotions, software updates, and so on. Employers look for individuals who can adapt to these changes quickly, reducing downtime and training requirements.

Building learning agility takes time, but it’s possible if you stay dedicated. If you embrace unfamiliar challenges, allow yourself to explore multiple solutions, and always push for new ideas, you’ll become an adaptable learner in no time.

Ability to work remotely

Remote and hybrid workplaces are on the rise. Today, employers look for applicants who can adapt to remote working environments, staying productive and engaged while working from home.

Remote workers must be self-starters. You’ll need to know how to manage your time, avoid distractions, and communicate well online. 

Thankfully, many universities now offer remote study opportunities, so you have a chance to practice these skills before entering the workplace. You can also undertake a remote internship to gain real-world experience before graduation.

Knowledge to work with people from different cultures

In the working world, working with people from different cultures is common. It’s essential to know how to successfully work with people from all backgrounds, regardless of cultural differences or language barriers.

You can build your skills in this area by:

  • Looking inward, considering your own culture,
  • Actively learning about other people’s cultural needs and practices,
  • Building relationships with people from a range of cultures (i.e. fellow students or mentors),
  • Willingly adapting and adjusting to change.

One fantastic way to expand your understanding of other cultures is to undertake a volunteer placement in another country, or intern at a global company with a diverse workforce.

Where do employers look for these skills?

There are two primary ways employers will look for employability skills during the hiring process—interviews and applications. Let’s discuss these points in more detail now.

Interviews and assessments

During job interviews, employers will look at several factors beyond your hard, technical skills. These factors can include:

  • Body language,
  • Likeability,
  • Openness to new ideas,
  • Soft skills (i.e. integrity, empathy, dependability),
  • Time management skills,
  • Preparation,
  • Confidence,
  • Passion,
  • Past experiences and proven successes.

Essentially, employers want applicants to demonstrate employability skills during the interview process. For example, you can show time management skills by arriving at the appointment on time, and effective communication skills by confidently expressing your experiences and abilities.

Resumes and cover letters

While resumes traditionally present job-relevant skills and experience, they’re a powerful way to exhibit soft skills, too. When creating a resume and cover letter, make sure it’s free from grammatical and formatting mistakes—errors are an instant red-flag for many employers and your CV is likely to head straight to the recycling bin!

A well-presented application immediately shows hiring managers you’re prepared, dedicated, and have strong attention to detail—all crucial professional skills.

Students developing skills desired by employers

How to enhance your employability

Summing up what we’ve said above, the best way to enhance student employability is via meaningful, time-relevant, and challenging projects. Modern educational approaches such as experiential and work-integrated learning are some great options.

Learning through experience will help you understand why education is important and how it applies to your future career goals. If you approach these new experiences with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn, you’re sure to become the type of employee hiring managers love.

So, if you’re looking to become an employable candidate straight out of university, you’ll need real-world experience, a strong work ethic, and transferable skills under your belt. Thankfully, Practera is here to help!

Be industry-ready with Practera’s help

Practera’s student programs make it easier than ever for students and learners to participate in  real industry experiences that will prepare you for career success. 

Programs such as our Study Australia Industry Experience Program will connect you with real business clients, offering you real-world experience and a strong foundation of industry connections. As they say—it’s often about who you know, not what you know. Plus, the ‘no experience, no jobcatch-21 becomes a problem of the past!

The Practera Industry Experience Program help you in building your professional network and level up your CV with experiences and skills one can only get in a real work environment. The programs also help you with your communications skills of presenting your credentials and experiences in a job interview to give you the best chance at landing a job after graduation.

To find out more about these life-changing programs and participate as a student please visit Practera’s student programs.

If you are an Educator keen on giving your learner these valuable employability skills through our program get in touch with the Practera team today.  You can also download our white paper to learn more about the power of project-based learning.

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What is an Internship and Why are they Important?

Many students approaching graduation worry about the prospect of finding a job without experience. It’s a real concern, too, with many entry-level jobs favouring applicants with relevant experience, skills, and industry connections.

Well, there’s one clear way to solve this problem—internships! Real-world placements in genuine working environments, such as Practera’s industry experience programs, can help you gain valuable experience, learn more about your chosen industry, and stand out among other job applicants.

Keep reading to learn more about the different types of internships and how you can find placement opportunities.

What is an internship?

An internship is a type of work experience that runs for a limited time. Originally, internships were exclusive to medical graduates, but they’re now widely available to students and young people across many disciplines.

Depending on your line of study and career goals, your internship could involve working at a government agency, non-profit, small business, or large organisation. The fixed period can vary from a few days to several months.

Internships aim to provide students with meaningful, practical work experience related to their career interests. Among other benefits, joining an internship program will help you build valuable skills, make connections, and decide whether a given career is right for you.

Working at an internship

The different types of internships

There are many different kinds of internships, each with unique benefits. The placement you choose will depend on factors such as your career goals, personal interests, financial situation, and schedule.

Keep in mind that internship expectations can differ between states and countries, so make sure to check your local government’s website for location-relevant information.

Unpaid internships

Unpaid internships are temporary placements completed as part of education or training. They’re a fantastic option for students looking to learn more about an industry and gain valuable contacts.

Most unpaid internships are lawful, but some are not. Remember the main benefit of the training should lean towards you—not the business. Under the fair work act, if the business is gaining more from the internship than you are, you may be an employee rather than an intern, and you may be entitled to payment.

During your unpaid internship, you’ll have no employment contract. Your days will usually involve observing others, seeing how the workplace runs, and receiving clear guidance on the ins and outs of the industry.

Unpaid internships are a great way to meet and form lasting business relationships with industry leaders, which can help you get a leg up once you start applying for jobs after graduation. You can also use your experience to boost your resume and build a list of positive references.

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Paid internships

Paid internships require an employment contract. Unlike unpaid internships, in most circumstances, you’ll be entitled to:

  • Employee working conditions set out by local government standards,
  • Conditions of any registered agreement or payment award relevant to your industry,
  • Minimum wages.

Through a paid internship, you can get hands-on experience in your chosen industry. It’s a great way to build hard and soft skills while helping you decide whether you’d like to continue along a particular career path.

Sometimes, you can add projects to your portfolio via a paid internship. For example, if you’re a graphic design student, you may help create graphics for an ongoing marketing campaign, which you can later use as an example of your work.

Virtual internships

Virtual internships are a form of computer-based learning. They provide many of the same benefits as in-person internships, but with more flexibility—especially for students who are long-distance or have busy schedules.

These digital internships usually involve connecting with industry leaders via online communication tools such as Zoom. You’ll work on authentic projects under direct guidance, gaining transferable skills and insights into your particular industry.

Virtual internships not only give you real-world experience in your field, they also equip you with the skills to work remotely and collaborate with people from different cultures, both critical skills in our hybrid-working world.


An externship (experience + internship) is an experiential learning opportunity stemming from partnerships between employers and educational institutions. Like internships, they aim to provide students with genuine, practical experience in their area of study.

You’ll normally complete an externship as a supplement to your regular study during the school year. During the externship, you’ll gain real-world insight into the theoretical topics you’re exploring in the classroom.

For example, if you’re an architecture student studying topography, you might complete a one-day externship taking topographical measurements on a building site. This experience will help you connect in-class theories with real-world scenarios.

Gaining experience at an internship

Why internships are important for career development

While a university course can provide the hard skills we need to secure and maintain full-time employment after graduation, it doesn’t always offer experience. That’s what makes internships so important—they provide you with the soft skills and on-the-job exposure that potential employers value so strongly.

You’ve probably heard the age-old term “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” In other words, connecting with others is crucial for career development. Internships will introduce you to leaders within your chosen field, helping you build business relationships before graduation. These connections can provide you with invaluable advice and even offer job opportunities in the future.

Internships are also a great way to learn more about yourself, your existing skillset, and your career goals. You’ll gain a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses along with what’s really involved in a job—so you can decide if you want to continue on the same path or switch things up.

Landing an internship: best practices

Landing an internship is challenging, but it becomes much easier when you know the best practices to follow. Here are some top tips for securing your dream placement.

Research and seek out early

The best way to find internships is to start searching early. Look for organisations in your industry and visit their websites—you’ll normally see a list of available and upcoming internship programs. You can also reach out to the company directly to enquire about placement options.

There’s no ideal time to start searching for an internship, but three to five months prior is a safe bet. This will give you time to weigh up your options and prepare well.

Seeking internships early will also demonstrate your organisation skills and passion to employers, boosting your chances of landing a position.

Update your resume and cover letter

Even if you don’t have any prior work experience, you can still create a convincing resume and cover letter for your internship application. Make sure to include:

  • Your relevant skills and interests,
  • Any volunteer experience,
  • Your educational background,
  • Any awards or recognitions,
  • A professional summary sharing your future career goals,
  • Clear contact information,
  • Portfolio examples if relevant.

In your cover letter, dive deeper into the reasons why you’re interested in the internship position and the skills you could bring to the table. You can include soft skills, like communication, self-motivation, and leadership; and hard skills relevant to your chosen industry.

Finally, include one to three professional references. These could be university lecturers, teachers, volunteer leaders, or any other people who can speak to your skills and demeanour.

Interview practice

A practice session can help you prepare for your interview, build confidence, and know what to expect. Your practice and prep process should be similar to a normal job interview. Make sure to:

  • Research the company. Learn about its vision and goals and reference them during the interview, connecting them to your passions.
  • Practice common interview questions with a family member or friend. Focus on your delivery and body language along with the quality and relevance of your answers.
  • Prepare your outfit. A common tip is to dress similarly to the company’s staff. If all else fails, business casual is best.
  • Think of questions to ask the interviewer. Asking questions shows the interviewer you’re genuinely interested in the role and keen to learn more about the company.

Student finding an internship

How to find an internship

Thanks to the internet, finding internships is easier than ever—but there’s still amazing value in recommendations from educational leaders, family, and friends.

Research online

There are several ways to find internships online. You can start with dedicated websites like Glassdoor or LinkedIn and search for opportunities in your industry and area.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for specific opportunities, try visiting your dream company’s website. You’ll often find placements listed in the ‘opportunities’ or ‘jobs’ section—if not, you can always reach out to the organisation via phone or email.

Reach out to your networks

Networking is a fantastic way to find internship opportunities that haven’t been listed online—and your chances of landing the position will soar, too. Ask friends, family members, and fellow students if they know of any local placements (and see if they can put a good word in for you!)

Ask your educational institution

Many educational institutions connect students directly with industry experience programs. This is especially true with externships, which happen during the school year.

One simple way to find opportunities is to contact your university’s Career Services team. They’ll walk you through your options and help you plan and prepare, giving you the best possible chance at securing a position.

You can also attend career information events and workshops, where you may be able to apply for internship placements on the spot.

Finding an internship through Practera

An easy way to find life-changing internship opportunities is through Practera’s powerful industry experience programs. These programs connect you with businesses around the globe, landing you life-changing placements to help you build confidence, gain critical skills, and learn more about your industry. All you need to do is express your interest and the Practera team will handle the rest!

To find out more about these programs, head over to our Practera for Students page to find the perfect industry experience program for you, and apply today!

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What is Social Learning & How Can It Be Applied in Higher Education?

Socialisation is a critical aspect of human learning, from our earliest moments through to school, university, working life, and beyond. Every day, everywhere, we learn from observing how other people behave, even if we don’t notice it.

A popular pedagogical principle known as social learning theory stems from this idea. In this article, we’ll dive deep into the theory, explaining its origins, key concepts, and applications in higher education settings.

By the end of this article, you’ll know how to use social learning theory to achieve exceptional outcomes for your students. Let’s begin!

What is social learning theory?

Social learning theory (SLT), also known as social cognitive theory, stems from the idea that people can learn new behaviours and skills by imitating or observing others. Canadian-American psychologist Albert Bandura OC first proposed the theory in the late 1970s while researching the cause of aggressive behaviour in young children.

Social learning theory suggests a connection between human behaviour and perceived self-efficacy (i.e. a person’s belief in their ability to achieve goals). According to Bandura, self-efficacy flows from four sources:

Performance accomplishments involve processes that help learners achieve certain tasks, leading to more complicated or complex objectives.

Vicarious experience is all about observing other people, including their behaviours and perceivable emotions. Bandura’s research suggests this behaviour helps learners gain experience and knowledge without actual participation.

Verbal persuasion involves offering encouragement to help a person achieve a task or reach a goal, such as compliments, advice, and support.

Finally, psychological states include physical and emotional states. In Bandura’s view, a learner must be relaxed and rested before attempting a new behaviour to achieve optimal results. Restless students are unlikely to achieve such behaviour.

Social learning in higher education

What is the main idea of social learning?

Bandura’s social learning theory follows an idea you’ve likely heard before—humans are social creatures, benefiting enormously from interaction with and observation of other people. This concept is especially clear in early life, where nearly all our behaviours stem from observing parents and caregivers.

But, according to SLT, observational and vicarious learning continues into later childhood, adolescence, and even adulthood. 

For example, a 2001 study published in Nurse Education Today discusses how SLT relates to practice-oriented professions such as nursing, where highly-trained nurses model appropriate behaviours to teach students clinical skills, professional attitudes, and how to interact with patients and other staff.

The study goes on to note how social learning theory intervention is significant in maintaining discipline and social conformity while increasing assertiveness and confidence among graduate nurses.

Want to learn more? Download the ‘Quality in Online Project-Based Learning’ white paper to see how top institutions are using experiential learning.

The components of social and observational learning

According to Bandura, observational learning cannot occur without the appropriate underlying cognitive factors. Individuals (and therefore students) won’t simply observe behaviours and automatically imitate them—some thought must occur before this happens. Bandura calls these thoughts mediational processes.

SLT divides these meditational processes into four core components, each playing a role in how people learn socially. In this section, we’ll go into more detail about each of these components and how they might apply in higher education settings.


Without due attention, optimal learning can’t take place. Learners must be focused on a task to achieve the full benefits. 

One great way to keep your learners focused is to present topics in unique, unusual, and ‘out-of-the-box’ ways, such as through exciting stories with real-world relevance or physical demonstrations.

Microlearning, which involves presenting information in short bursts, is another great way to hold attention and keep your learners focused on the task at hand.


For a student to accurately reproduce learned behaviours, they must remember or retain its features. Retention rates can waver depending on the observer’s cognitive capabilities, rehearsal levels, and the complexity of the event.

According to Bandura, retention requires both visual and verbal cognitive processes. Verbal instruction is preferable in the most complex scenarios.


This component involves a student’s ability to reproduce the observed behaviour. It’s important to note that accurate reproduction is not always possible—individuals are limited by their physical and cognitive abilities.

Accurate reproduction also requires thorough observation. Bandura suggests that reinforcing behaviours such as self-observation and effective feedback from others can help.


Motivation describes an individual’s desire to reproduce (or not reproduce) observed behaviours. Whether or not a person chooses to reproduce an action can depend on their motives, anticipated consequences, internal standards, the action’s functional value, and the environment.

Motivated students through social learning

Why is social learning important?

Social learning is important and relevant across multiple disciplines, from criminology to developmental psychology and even artificial intelligence. It is vital in understanding most human behaviour—especially how it is acquired and maintained.

In educational contexts, social learning strategies offer many benefits, including:

  • Improved knowledge acquisition
  • Stronger retention
  • Modelling particular behaviour
  • Enhanced learning outcomes

These benefits largely stem from the inherent motivation and encouragement involved in social learning.

A 2015 article published in Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability posits that social learning is critical for transformation and progress, promoting a stronger sense of agency among individuals and groups. In other words, it motivates students to change the world in ways that benefit society as a whole.

The pros and cons of the social learning process

SLT has both proponents and opponents, each with compelling arguments for and against social learning concepts and their corresponding models. Below, we’ll discuss some key advantages and disadvantages to help you decide whether SLT is right for your classroom. 


SLT offers many benefits to students, educators, and educational institutions alike. First of all, it’s a natural, innate way to learn that blends well with other modern pedagogies like experiential, project-based, and gamified learning.

We all learn socially each day, whether we’re conscious of it or not. We might unknowingly pick up a slang term a friend uses and add it to our vocabulary, or learn a new cooking skill while watching daytime television.

Social learning also opens up communal skill-sharing opportunities, where students can learn from peers, educators, and positive role models. It’s also a great way to build retention thanks to its engaging, motivating, and collaborative nature.

For graduates moving into the workforce, social learning is also highly beneficial. Students who know how to optimise learning through observation and imitation are likely to progress more smoothly in their future careers.


While social learning theory has many strengths, it also has some drawbacks. One key weakness is the lack of accountability within SLT models—that is, the theory places so much emphasis on environmental factors, it fails to acknowledge the importance of individual accountability.

It may be better to take a balanced approach here, considering how the social environment can influence human learning as well as how students process and handle new information.

Another disadvantage involves the methods Bandura used while developing his theory. Many of his ideas stemmed from research into children’s behaviour in lab settings, which does not necessarily reflect behaviours in daily life.

How to incorporate social learning techniques in your classroom

According to Bandura, the three principles of social learning are:

  • The live model, which involves acting out or physically demonstrating behaviours.
  • The symbolic model, where fictional or real characters in movies, TV programs, books, or online media display behaviours.
  • The verbal instructional model, where educators describe or explain behaviours through spoken language.

You can incorporate one or several of these models in your classroom to reap the benefits of social learning theory. The best model you use will depend on the type of content you’re teaching and your student’s unique learning styles.

Through the power of technology, you can deliver social learning even in online or hybrid learning environments. Digital communication tools, such as live chats, webinars, and video conferences are all effective options.

Social learning in the classroom

Examples of social learning

There are many ways to incorporate social learning techniques in the classroom. Here are just a few examples.

You could use the live model to show health science students how to assist a patient with injury recovery exercises in an engaging, immersive way. Through active learning observation, students will learn practical skills and the appropriate behaviours for assisting and interacting with patients.

As another example, you could use the symbolic model by showing a class of aviation students an instructional video demonstrating the features and functions of an aeroplane. Here, students learn how aeroplanes work and how to safely interact with their components from the safety of the classroom.

Finally, using the verbal instructional model, you could deliver a lecture to journalism students on how to draft and present a compelling story.

Challenges and criticisms of social learning

Social learning offers some challenges. Importantly, when Bandura first proposed his social learning theory, there was little research into children and adults with social learning differences, such as those with autism and ADHD.

It is critical to recognise that students with social learning differences, or reduced interest in socialisation, may not benefit as strongly from social learning techniques. It’s better to consider every student’s learning style, catering to their unique needs.

When used excessively, social learning techniques may limit innovation. Progress typically comes from fresh, unconventional ideas, which is why educators shouldn’t rely entirely on the SLT model. Introspection is just as important as learning from others.

How Practera can help

Practera offers several managed services and authentic industry programs to help educators and higher education institutions deliver powerful social learning experiences.

All you need to do is define your project goals—such as your industry, learner numbers, delivery dates, and desired theme—and we’ll connect your students with transformative and authentic programs to help them build vital professional skills and connections. With real-world projects, we have empowered almost 1 million learners globally with industry-recognised career skills.

Using our platform, projects will include access to full-scale analytics and feedback while emphasising strong social connections between students, educators, clients, universities, and industry leaders.

To learn more about Practera and what we can do for your higher education institution, connect with us for a discussion today. You can also download our white paper for a detailed breakdown of online project learning and its benefits. You can also trial our industry experience program for free for a short time here.

Boost your skills and employability with Practera and learn more about the importance of experiential learning today.


How Learning Analytics Can Drive Student Engagement & Optimise Learning Experiences

All higher education institutions collect data about students, from classroom attendance to grade performance and beyond. But what if we could analyse this data to gain intelligent insights, optimise learning experiences, and drive stronger engagement?

A specialised model known as learning analytics makes this all possible.

By reading this article, you’ll learn more about learning analytics, why it’s important, and how you can use the model to improve outcomes within your classroom.

What is learning analytics?

Learning analytics refers to the collection, measurement, and analysis of data about learners and the environments or contexts in which they learn. It is a form of educational technology that aims to understand and optimise learning to provide the best outcomes for students and educators.

Analysing performance data can help you create powerfully personalised learning experiences for each student, catering to their unique abilities, interests, needs, and expectations.

Universities and higher education institutions have collected data about students for decades, but researchers have only recently discovered how to tap into this information. The learning analytics models and technologies today allow skilful analysts to derive real, useful information from millions of data points.

Learning analytics typically comes in the form of an LMS or learning management system. To understand student behaviour, these systems track data such as clicks, time on task, information flow, and navigation patterns. It also conducts social network analysis, which analyses student behaviour among social networks.

Learning analytics

How is learning analytics used in higher education?

Learning analytics is an incredibly useful tool in the higher education sphere, especially in our new world of online learning and hybrid learning. It allows educators and institutions to learn more about students, including how well they perform, their path through the learning process, and whether courses meet their expectations.

Some other valuable insights educational institutions can unlock through learning analytics include:

  • Learning patterns and progress
  • Forecasted academic success
  • Retention rates and engagement levels
  • Evidence-based suggestions and solutions
  • Individual student risk
  • Resource use and utility

Conducting a knowledge conference on learning analytics is a great way to introduce higher education staff to these data points and their meaning.

This information benefits students, educators, administrators, and researchers alike. By monitoring behavioural patterns, tracking changes, and comparing student progress, we can see how well individual students and programs perform.

With this information in tow, learning institutions can make informed changes to improve course outlines, boost engagement, and enhance graduate outcomes.

Want to learn more? Download the ‘Quality in Online Project-Based Learning’ white paper to see how top institutions are using experiential learning.

Why is learning analytics important?

Learning analytics research is important because no two students are the same. As outlined by educational theorist David Kolb and many of his contemporaries, all students have unique learning styles influenced by their environment, culture, social experiences, and basic cognitive structures.

Educational data mining allows us to personalise learning to fit each learner’s distinct learning style. This approach also helps students connect with learning materials in a more meaningful, personal way, which is key to motivation and engagement.

For educators and universities, analytics unlock vital insights that pave the way for impactful improvements based on real data.

Benefits of learning analytics

Now, let’s go into more detail about the enormous benefits learning analytics delivers for universities, educators, and students.

Boosts student retention and well-being

If students struggle to understand a course’s content, or don’t feel supported or encouraged in class, they’re unlikely to succeed. Retention rates will wane and the student’s well-being will suffer, leading to poor results and dropouts.

Learning analytics helps universities better understand student needs and identify potential risks. Recognising these risks early on allows educators to intervene, offering personalised support, leadership, and advice before serious educational challenges arise.

Improves student learning

According to the self-determination theory (SDT), there are two elements involved in human motivation—intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic factors include passion, sustained efforts, and curiosity, while extrinsic factors include rewards, fears, and grades or evaluations.

According to the SDT, the three main factors aspects involved in intrinsic motivation are relatedness, competence, and autonomy. These experiences drive students to engage more deeply with activities, leading to enhanced performance, creativity, and persistence.

Learning analytics provides a lens into students’ self-determination levels, highlighting potential gaps. For example, if a student isn’t feeling connected (or related) to course content, learning analytics will make this clear. Educators can then use this data to reposition course content in a more meaningful and relevant way, such as through gamification or project-based learning.

Identifies students at risk

Some students may be at risk of failing, dropping out, or otherwise struggling to complete their coursework successfully. Identifying these risks early on helps prevent bigger problems from happening in the future.

Potential warning signs include:

With many educators managing many students at once, it can be hard to keep track of these warning signs. Thankfully, a learning analytics tool can identify and alert you to these behaviours as soon as they crop up so you can offer extra support.

Learning analytics in higher education

Assists in decision-making

Effective decision-making is difficult without concrete evidence to back it up. This is where learning analytics really shines—it can help you make choices based on factual, measurable, and actionable student data.

For example, if your institution must decide whether or not to cancel a subject, you can use data such as attendance rates, engagement rates, and enrolments to determine if continuing the subject is worthwhile.

Personalises learning experiences

Students learn in unique ways. Some may take in information visually, while others may need to experiment and physically engage to fully understand a topic.

Through learning analytics, you can create personalised learning experiences that tap into students’ individual needs, expectations, desires, and interests. Some ways to achieve this include collecting learner feedback, presenting and analysing the success of different learning modalities, and measuring retention rates.

Unlocks effective learning

According to Northern Illinois University’s Center for Effective Teaching and Learning, the core principles of effective learning are:

Because learning analytics reveal detailed information about students on an individual basis, we can use the data to achieve and maintain these core principles. Further, we can identify any gaps in these areas—such as poor or nonreciprocal communication—and make respective improvements.

What are the different types of learning analytics?

There are four main types of learning analytics. Let’s discuss what they are and what’s involved now.

Descriptive analytics

Descriptive analytics involves unlocking insights into past behaviours. Using data mining and aggregation, this approach identifies trends over time, such as:

  • Student feedback,
  • Data across all stages of student life, from admission to graduation
  • Past student behaviour patterns,
  • Course results over time.

Comparing historical data with current measurements is a great way to understand which changes have occurred within a learning institution—and whether or not they’ve been effective.

Diagnostic analytics

Diagnostic analytics aims to answer the ‘why’ questions, like ‘why did this happen?’ and ‘why does this need improvement?’ 

It involves using data discovery, mining, and correlations techniques to:

  • Inform and enhance key point indicators (KPIs) within an educational institution,
  • Analyse engagement and performance metrics,
  • Determine the cause of poor attendance rates or grades,
  • Identify areas of risk

Once you’ve identified trends via descriptive analytics, your institution can use diagnostic analytics to understand why these trends happen and how to resolve or enhance them.

Predictive analytics

Predictive analytics is all about—you guessed it—prediction! It involves looking at past and present data to make informed hypotheses about what might happen in the future.

Advanced learning management systems use machine learning techniques, statistical models, and algorithms to forecast these trends. It may predict:

  • Student numbers,
  • Interest in an upcoming program,
  • Cohort mobility,
  • Expected grade averages.

Forecasting can help educators and institutions make better decisions and create informed strategies to deliver education in ways students need, want, and understand.

Prescriptive analytics

Finally, prescriptive analytics is all about taking the data gathered through predictive analytics and using it to make informed choices for the future. It answers the question, “what’s the next step?

Using a mix of machine-learning algorithms and expert human analysis, prescriptive analytics reveals optimal teaching and learning practices.

For your university or higher education institution, prescriptive analytics could unlock:

Optimal teaching methods with learning analytics

Examples of learning analytics

Let’s make things a little clearer with a few examples.

According to Learning Analytics in Higher Education, the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) found three out of four students who didn’t proceed to their next year of study were predicated as ‘at risk’ by the learning analytics model.

In the same way, you can use predictive analytics to identify at-risk students and provide support or prepare for fewer enrolments the following year.

Educators may also use learning analytics to analyse, understand, and improve their own practice. For example, you might identify through student feedback, attendance, and results that a particular class isn’t interesting or engaging. You can use this information to realign your course plan to meet student needs.

How Practera can help

At Practera, we understand data is the key to unlocking better opportunities for students, educators, and universities. That’s why we offer services for authentic industry experience programs, powered by technology-driven solutions to deliver real-world learning.

Through Practera, you can create transformative programs to keep your students engaged, motivated, and connected with outstanding graduate opportunities. With our experience programs and project-based learning, we help leading institutions around the world deliver high-quality industry projects at scale & cost-effectively. 

Our platform makes delivery robust yet simple, providing detailed learning analytics and feedback so you can optimise learning experiences and empower your students with career-ready skills.

To discover how Practera can help you, start a conversation with a member of our friendly team today. You can also download our project-based learning white paper to find out more. You can also trial our industry experience program for free for a short time here.

Boost your skills and employability with Practera and learn more about the importance of experiential learning today.


Unlocking Student Engagement & Flexibility With Computer-Based Learning

With the rise of distance and hybrid learning, universities and higher education institutions must find ways to keep classroom content engaging and accessible. Maintaining a cohesive learning environment can be challenging with learners spread across the country (and sometimes the globe).

Computer-based learning is one proven strategy for solving this problem. By communicating and collaborating online, students can enjoy many of the same—and sometimes more—benefits as they would in a traditional classroom.

By the end of this article, you’ll have the full low-down on computer-based learning, including what it is, why it works, and how to implement it in your classroom.

Let’s begin!

What is computer-based learning?

Computer-based learning, or CBL, describes any kind of learning achieved (at least partially) through computer software.

CBL takes advantage of an enormous range of computer programs, applications, and peripherals to enhance student learning and create a more immersive educational experience.

For example, students could use VR technology to explore the universe and learn more about planets and constellations. Another popular approach involves quiz apps, where students answer questions using a computer or mobile device, collecting rewards like points and trophies.

This method offers many benefits for students, educators, and higher education institutions, including:

  • Stronger engagement
  • Increased retention rates
  • Easier performance tracking
  • Access to detailed analytics
  • Time and money savings
  • Improved accessibility

We’ll go into more detail about these benefits later in this article. Let’s discuss different types of computer-based learning and how you might implement them in your classroom.

Computer based learning in higher education

What are the types of computer-based training?

With recent advances in educational technology, computer-based learning opportunities have grown in leaps and bounds. Here are some effective ways to apply the approach within your classroom, developing crucial employability skills, including problem-solving, leadership, and critical thinking.


eLearning describes learning or training delivered through digital resources, normally online. This method is especially popular now many universities, and higher education institutions have moved towards distance or hybrid learning.

eLearning courses make it easier for students to access education anytime, anywhere. It’s also a more accessible option for students unable to attend physical learning premises.

Want to learn more? Download the ‘Quality in Online Project-Based Learning’ white paper to see how top institutions are using experiential learning.


Gamification is an increasingly popular educational tool that presents learning in a game-like format. The method stems from the popularity of video games, sports, and board games and their respective reward systems.

Game elements can include:

  • Quests and challenges
  • Levels or stages
  • Leaderboards
  • Competitions
  • Collaborations

As students progress through a gamified learning program, they’ll enjoy rewards such as points, badges, achievements, and trophies. Sometimes, students can exchange points for physical rewards like money and gifts.

These rewards and game elements create a motivating and engaging learning experience. The motivation stems from the relatedness, autonomy, purpose, and sense of mastery (through achievements and feedback) involved in gamified learning.

You can deliver educational games in your classroom in many ways. For example, you could have your students connect to a quiz app and compete against each other to achieve the highest score.


Microlearning delivers education and training in short bursts and bite-sized online modules. It’s a fantastic option when teaching complex topics that may be challenging to absorb all at once.

You can deliver microlearning in a few ways, such as through:

  • Images (photos, artworks, and illustrations)
  • Short-form videos (up to a few minutes long)
  • Text (short paragraphs and phrases)
  • Audio (brief snippets of music, podcasts, speeches, etc.)

Breaking down complex information (known as chunking) is a powerful way to make education more accessible—especially now that many students have busy lives full of work, social and family commitments.


A webinar is a digital version of a seminar where students and educators get together to share and discuss classroom topics. Webinars became especially popular during the COVID-19 pandemic when many higher education institutions switched to 100% distance learning.

Webinars allow educators to communicate reciprocally with students in real-time, much like in a physical classroom. However, the approach is more cost-effective, requires fewer resources, and is more accessible to students.

VR training

VR training is becoming increasingly popular in universities and higher education institutions around the globe. It involves using virtual reality technology, such as headsets and controllers, to create engaging and immersive learning experiences.

A recent study on the benefits of VR training among engineering students found positive cognitive and pedagogical effects, improving students’ topical understanding, performance, grades, and educational experience.

The study also identified benefits for universities and institutions, including reduced liability, infrastructure, and costs.

Some other ways you could use VR in your classroom include:

  • Virtual excursions to landmarks or historical sites
  • Computer programming with interactive elements
  • Group distance learning in a virtual classroom environment

These experiences allow students to realistically explore places, periods of history, and activities they wouldn’t have access to in the real world.

VR computer based learning

Why are computer-based learning programs important?

Computer-based learning is important because it presents a new, engaging, and accessible way for students to access education—and for higher education institutions to deliver it.

The approach breaks down traditional educational barriers, such as distance and cost, to open opportunities to a broader spectrum of learners.

It is also reflective of the technology-driven world we live in today. Students with experience using computer-based tools and programs will be well-prepared for the working world’s expansive digital landscape.

Benefits of computer-based training software in higher education

Now, let’s go into a little more detail about how computer-based instruction benefits students, educators, and institutions within higher education.

Flexibility, efficiency, and learning at one’s own pace

Computer-based learning is highly flexible for both students and educators. It allows education to happen at any time, anywhere.

For example, students who work during the day can review digital learning materials at night. It also allows learners in different time zones to access content when it suits them.

Digital learning can also be more efficient, especially in the case of gamified and microlearning. Students can more readily absorb information by delivering deeply engaging and motivating learning experiences, reducing time and resource investments.


With significantly lower upfront and ongoing costs, computer-based learning is incredibly cost-effective. Students no longer need to fork out hundreds of dollars for expensive textbooks; costly physical learning materials aren’t necessary.

This is especially true when we consider the equal, or even greater, impact of computer-based learning on motivation, knowledge retention, and engagement.


Standardisation provides equal support and opportunities for teachers and learners, allowing everyone to follow a program or qualification’s path. It ensures consistency and fairness as educators and learners move through training courses.

Traditional education creates standardisation barriers, especially for students with additional commitments or learning needs. Computer-based education allows educators to create accessible learning experiences for each student.

Interactivity and engagement

One of computer-based learning’s key benefits is its immersive nature. While computer technology cannot currently match real-world experiences, we can use it to introduce students to activities and scenarios that are too difficult, dangerous, or far away to access in real life.

It also unlocks the three fundamental psychological needs involved in human motivation:

  1. Autonomy, where people feel empowered and free to make decisions,
  2. Competence, where people feel in control and can gain mastery over a domain or task,
  3. Relatedness, where students feel connected to the task and others involved in it.

In computer-based learning, students can autonomously access, share, and engage with information; control their learning path; and seek support via a digital social network (i.e. webinars, chat-based communication tools, and so on). 

Immersive computer based learning

Best practices for implementing computer-based learning

Implementing computer-based learning in your classroom is simple and easy. Here are some popular methods to try.


Tutorials are small classes that usually follow a lecture. They allow students and educators to discuss lecture content in more detail, ask questions, and explore readings together.

This teaching method is one of the easiest to transfer into the digital space. Students can tune into tutorials from their computers, tablets, or smartphones and participate in the discussion in real time.

Online tutorials also allow you to share useful files, videos, and links with students, creating a more visually engaging and interactive experience.

Simulations and games

Simulations and games allow students to develop skills and explore realities they wouldn’t normally have access to, like other cities or workplaces.

Simulated computer-based training examples include biomedical science students accessing a virtual lab to participate in a simulated clinical trial in a safe and interactive environment. 

You can also gamify activities to make them more fun and engaging. Competitions with different levels of rewards or prizes are a great way to achieve this goal.

Drill and practice

Drill and practice is an instructional method involving repeating problems, concepts, and examples. It is a popular way to gradually perfect a procedure or skill and to memorise topics.

In a traditional classroom environment, unless the content is recorded, students cannot access the content again and reflect upon the learning process. Computer-based learning solves this problem by allowing students to review information and practice skills anytime. 

How Practera can help

At Practera, we offer a range of managed services and authentic industry experience programs to help students, educators, and higher education institutions deliver engaging and transformative computer-based learning activities.

Your institution can use our scalable digital projects to prepare your students with industry-ready skills while boosting retention rates and motivation. We’ve helped hundreds of universities globally with our high-quality industry projects and empowered students with career-ready skills.

We’ll take your requirements, such as duration, delivery dates, and learner numbers, and transform them into a live program launch with detailed analytics and feedback management tools, which are available on our platform. Our managed services also include continuous support of participants in real-time and a debrief with a practical program report.

To learn more about what Practera can do for you and your students, get in touch with our team or download our project-based learning white paper today. You can also trial our industry experience program for free for a short time here.

Boost your skills and employability with Practera and learn more about the importance of experiential learning today.


Learner Experience: What It Is & Why It Matters for Your Students

The learner experience is a key driver of engagement and success. It determines how learners progress through a training program, whether they fail or succeed, and university outcomes, including graduate outcomes and retention rates.

The modern university’s focus on the learner experience encourages teachers to provide a more personalised, relevant, and engaging education. 

In this article, you’ll discover what it is, how it matters, and how you can design high-quality experiences for your students.

What is learner experience?

The learner experience is the sum of a person’s emotions, perceptions, and cognitive processes while learning. This type of learning looks beyond the quality of the outcome and its presentation, considering the entire experience from start to end.

When discussing the learner experience in higher education settings, we must also consider learner experience (LX) design. This process involves designing and creating goal-oriented, human-centred learning experiences.

LX design combines various educational elements, including instructional design, experiential learning, project-based learning, and cognitive psychology, to create a highly engaging and valuable experience for learners.

Now, let’s discuss the three main aspects of the learner experience and how you might apply them in your next learning program.

Leaner experience online

Individual learner experience

The individual learner experience regards each student’s experience while learning. It involves their personal goals, needs, expectations, skills, and feelings—all aspects we must consider in the LX design process.

In higher education settings, some critical elements of a meaningful learning experience include engagement, content proficiency, and retention. These aspects reflect the educational quality and student success, which is why good LX design is so important.

Want to learn more? Download the ‘Quality in Online Project-Based Learning’ white paper to see how top institutions are using experiential learning.

Group learner experience

The group learner experience, as you might expect, is about how each group member moves through the learning journey. This includes how well the group works together, its members’ diversity, and each member’s ability to express their unique perspectives and ideas.

A positive group experience will allow every member to offer equal contributions, feel recognised and understood, and make their mark on a project’s process and outcome. Communication within the group should be reciprocal and respectful.

Blended learning experience

Blended learning experiences combine group and learner experiences to form an overarching plan. These experiences typically include online or distance learning along with traditional in-person classes.

Modern universities must focus on designing a positive blended learning experience to achieve high-quality learning outcomes. Some ways to improve the experience include:

  • Offering online chat and collaboration features
  • Using video chat technology, such as Zoom, to mimic the classroom experience in the digital space
  • Creating a healthy balance of online learning and in-person classes
  • Defining clear objectives
  • Teaching self-motivation skills

These steps can reduce the confusion and isolation online and distance learning can cause, ensuring students remain engaged with class content.

What is learner experience design?

As we touched on above, learner experience design (LX design) is the process of researching, planning, and creating transformative learning experiences. It’s vital for educators hoping to achieve the desired outcomes for their students.

Good LX design is goal-oriented, human-centred, experiential, and focused on genuine learning. Below, we’ll dive deeper into these elements and why they matter.


Primarily, the learner experience should focus on the human—that is, the learner themselves and whoever they may interact with throughout the learning process. This includes other group members, teachers, peers, and mentors.

Human-centred learning aims to ensure learners have control over their education, leading to stronger engagement and higher retention rates. It’s also a fantastic way to build leadership skills as learners take ownership of their education.

Human-centred design requires a solid understanding of your student cohort. The best way to achieve this is to work with your students as you create learning plans, ask questions, and take their feedback on board.

Knowing each student’s unique goals, interests, background, and learning style is also important to design experiences that meet their needs.


The learning experience is better for educators and learners when there are clear objectives in place. These objectives guide the learning process, defining the purpose of the training and the desired end goal.

Setting goals motivates learners to work towards them, especially as they move closer and closer to the outcome. You can also keep your students engaged throughout the course of a project by setting intermittent goals.

Genuine learning

The learning environment should also be genuine, focusing on meaningful connections, thoughts, and interactions. This ties in with David Kolb’s experiential learning theory, which emphasises authentic opportunities with genuine, real-world impacts. 

Focusing on the learning process, rather than solely on instruction, teaching, or outcomes, allows educators to better understand how and why students learn.

Importance of learner experience in university

Why is learners’ experience important?

A meaningful learning experience is critical because it directly impacts the process and outcome of a training course or project. Learners are at the centre of everything higher education institutions do. Without learners, there are no disciplines, lectures, projects, teachers… the list goes on.

Degrees are about more than the piece of paper a student receives upon graduating! These courses often require years of study—and if this experience isn’t supportive, engaging, and positive, students are unlikely to make a strong transition into the working world.

Using good LX design, you can:

  • Promote and enhance student learning;
  • Maximise knowledge acquisition and results;
  • Boost student satisfaction;
  • Improve graduate outcomes and university rankings.

A positive learning experience drives students to succeed and prepares them with employability skills necessary for success after graduation. It also builds positive reputations for higher education institutions.

The 4 elements of a great learner experience

A great learner experience comprises four main elements. Let’s go into more detail about them now.

1. Understanding learners

The best way to deliver a learning experience that benefits your students is to understand their interests, desires, and needs. Each student is different, with unique learning styles, and it’s essential to acknowledge these differences to achieve optimal outcomes.

For example, some students may learn best through written instruction, while others may prefer direct experimentation. Offering student-led projects, where students guide their personal learning journeys, is a terrific way to ensure each individual has the best chance at success.

2. Experiential learning

Experiential learning is a pedagogy involving active participation in the learning process. It is a form of ‘learning by doing’, although it doesn’t necessarily require physical acts, as long as the learner immerses themselves in the learning content.

One of the most famous proponents of experiential learning was educational theorist David Kolb. He developed a four-stage experiential learning model, including concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualisation, and active experimentation.

This approach to education is highly motivating because it helps learners connect class content and real-life scenarios. It tackles age-old student questions like ‘when am I ever going to use algebra in real life?’

3. Engagement and motivation

A positive learner experience will engage and motivate students both intrinsically and extrinsically. Intrinsic motivation, driven by self-determination, personal interest, and relatedness, is especially important.

Extrinsic motivational tools like games, rewards, and prizes can help too—but don’t focus on them completely.

Project-based learning is one fantastic way to keep learners engaged. It involves students guiding the learning process and working through projects with real-world relevance, which studies have shown is highly intrinsically motivating.

4. Sensory layer

The sensory layer involves a student’s sensory experience as they learn. This can include sounds, sights, smells, and physical sensations.

To design an effective learner experience, you’ll need to consider all these senses. 

Focus on the following:

  • Tone of your written and verbal content and instructions;
  • Overall mood of the physical environment;
  • Visual design of any materials you use;
  • Way you frame goals and messages;
  • Usability of physical and digital tools;
  • Diversity and accessibility of classroom content.

These aspects can impact how students think and feel about the learning journey, impacting intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Higher education learning experience

How is learner experience influenced by the learning environment?

Drawing on our above point, the learning environment (including physical and emotional aspects) directly impacts the learner experience.

Studies show classroom conditions impact student learning and motivation, including their participation in academic activities, attendance, and personal behaviour.

Creating a positive learning environment is another essential element of good LX design.

How Practera’s project-based learning services can help 

Project-based learning incorporates many elements of good LX design, including meaning, relevance, and a goal-oriented, human-centred focus. 

If you’re looking for a simple, cost-effective, and powerful way to deliver project-based learning objectives in your classroom, Practera is the way to do it! Discover our authentic industry experience program where we can bring your students to work on real-world projects with Australian and global employers. We offer numerous services to facilitate this process, including internships, client sourcing and matching, participant support, quality assurance, and more.

Delivering these project learning experiences is easier than ever with Practera, thanks to our managed services. We’ll manage invoices and payments, assign students with clients, and offer continuous support throughout the industry programs. You’ll also have access to live analytics with our platform, as well as pre-built templates, a detailed analytics dashboard, and a powerful AI-based support assistant.

We have successfully helped hundreds of universities and educators in empowering their students with industry-ready career skills through our services and authentic high-quality industry programs.

To get started with Practera, get in touch with a member of our friendly team today. Alternatively, you can download our project-based learning white paper to learn more or trial our industry experience program for free here.

Boost your skills and employability with Practera and learn more about the importance of experiential learning today.


The Benefits of Action Learning Projects for Higher Education & Leadership Development

In today’s world, students face endless distractions and ever-evolving choices. Information bombards them from every direction—be it the news, social media, or their family and friends. 

It’s no longer enough to deliver lectures, exams, and assignments and expect students to remain engaged!

Educators must embrace new approaches, such as action learning, to keep students motivated and prepare them for the future of work.

In this article, you’ll learn about what action learning is, how it works, and how you can use the transformative approach to improve outcomes and develop leadership skills in your classroom.

What is action learning?

Action learning is a form of active, project-based learning where learners apply knowledge to solve real-world problems.

Among other benefits, action learning helps students develop core skills and competencies by working on projects relevant to their future goals. Over a project’s course, students learn through investigation, self-reflection, and feedback.

Typically, action learning works best with small groups, allowing members to share skills and make equal contributions. It will include the following elements:

  • Planning (i.e. what are our goals and how do we plan to achieve them?)
  • Acting (i.e. carrying out plans and actions)
  • Reflecting (i.e. what went well, what didn’t, and how we feel about the project?)
  • Learning (i.e. why did the project succeed/not succeed, and what can we change or improve upon next time?)

This process helps participants think critically about their actions and identify which steps helped them achieve their goals. It follows the idea that many students perform better and are more engaged with class content when ‘learning by doing’.

Action learning projects in university

Types of action learning

There are always ways to apply action learning techniques in the classroom, regardless of the subject you teach. The approach is beneficial for students learning everything, from hospitality skills to computer science!

Some popular types of action learning projects include:

  • Action research, an applied field involving learners in generating and collecting data to solve a problem or answer a question.
  • Action teaching, where learners develop, design, and implement instructional units for students and assess their effects on learning outcomes.
  • Problem-based action learning (PBL), which focuses on solving problems relevant to the learner’s work environment, personal life, and goals. It includes deep reflection and critical thinking about the problem-solving process itself.

Each type of action learning has a similar goal—to actively immerse students in the learning process, leading to higher engagement, stronger retention, and an overall enhanced experience for educators and students alike.

Action learning is also a valuable way to build hard and soft skills in your students, including those essential for leadership, such as conflict resolution, strategic thinking, and open communication.

Want to learn more? Download the ‘Quality in Online Project-Based Learning’ white paper to see how top institutions are using experiential learning.

Role of a facilitator

In action learning, the facilitator— often the teacher—has the essential role of ‘holding the process’. In other words, they must ensure the project’s course focuses on real issues and genuine learning.

A good action learning facilitator will hold several core skills and competencies, including:

  • Strong interpersonal or ‘people’ skills
  • Good teamwork skills
  • Communication and collaboration skills
  • The ability to give constructive feedback
  • Supportive and encouraging people management skills
  • Being a positive role model

As a facilitator in your classroom, your actions may include leading class discussions, asking driving questions, and encouraging students to share thoughts and ideas.

What are the components of an action learning project?

Now, let’s discuss some key components of action learning projects and how they apply to higher education.

Remember—these components don’t have to happen in any particular order. Teams will move in and out of each component as they work through a project, sometimes returning to a single component several times.


All action learning begins with a problem. The problem should be timely, important, and relevant to the team’s interests and goals.

For example, political science students may identify a pressing societal or business issue, such as a law they’d like to change or a local injustice. Whichever problem students choose, it should be something they feel passionate about and inspired to solve.

Action learning team

Action learning teams normally consist of four to eight people. The smaller the group, the more chance each person has to make an equal contribution—although you don’t want to go too small.

Ideally, teams should be large enough to include people from diverse backgrounds but small enough to make communication and teamwork easy.

Action learning projects team

Questioning & reflection

Reflection is a critical part of action learning. It enables learners to look back on their experience, identifying what went well and what didn’t. This process helps students learn from their mistakes, develop new skills, and gain critical insights into their weaknesses and strengths.

Action taken

This component involves teams taking action to solve the chosen problem. Team members should do more than brainstorm potential solutions or make suggestions; action should have a genuine impact.

For example, the politician science students mentioned above could take action by writing to their local political authority or gathering signatures on a petition.

Commitment to learning

Students must be committed to the learning process to achieve optimal outcomes. Thankfully, a learner-centred approach increases engagement, enthusiasm, and commitment.

The benefits of action learning projects in higher education

Action learning offers a broad range of benefits to students and educators in higher education, including:

  • Better retention rates
  • Improved learning outcomes
  • More diverse opportunities
  • Stronger connections with peers, leaders, and communities
  • Enhanced engagement and motivation

It’s also a fantastic way to build 21st-century skills (like critical thinking, creativity, and technological literacy) in your students, preparing them for career success after graduation.

How action learning can help develop future leaders

Action learning is a powerful technique for building leadership skills in your students.

When your students apply their knowledge to real-world contexts, they develop various skills critical to modern leadership, including problem-solving, decision-making, and collaboration.

This type of learning also encourages students to self-reflect and build self awareness—something future leaders must constantly do.

Developing leaders through action learning projects

How Practera’s project-based learning services can help

Practera’s project-based learning programs can help you deliver revolutionary active learning experiences in your classroom.

Practera helps educators build professional skills, experiences & connections for their students through authentic project-based learning. We help leading institutions around the world deliver high-quality industry projects at scale & cost-effectively. 

We have helped hundreds of universities and educators globally and empowered almost 1 million learners with industry-recognised career skills through our services and high-quality active learning authentic industry experiences and programs.

Using our platform, you can also access essential tools to streamline the delivery process, including pre-built templates, a detailed analytics dashboard, and a powerful AI-based support assistant.

To learn more about our services and how Practera can enhance learning outcomes in your classroom and build future leaders, connect with our team for a discussion or download our project-based learning white paper today. You can also trial our industry experience program for free for a short time here.

Boost your skills and employability with Practera and learn more about the importance of experiential learning today.


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