Reflection in learning has been shown to help students conceptualize knowledge in a personal way, and to spark a deeper connection between a class activity and foundational concepts. The K-12 projects that Livable Wage Jobs (LWJ) champions promote thoughtful analysis from students through daily surveys, weekly check-ins, and ongoing support from industry mentors working with youth. In a theoretical framework, reflective observations about experiences lead to new knowledge and active experimentation and confidence that encourage persistence and content mastery (McLeod, 2017).
LWJ collaborators have spent recent years iterating reflective learning and WQ-Workplace Intelligence in practice, including measuring changes in high schoolers’ persistence, collaboration, work ethic, communication, and creativity. WQ work experiences implemented in schools across California incorporate paid internships for high school students and engage learners in line with how the modern world and businesses work. It is different, forward looking, and useful in the changing global economy. “This is completely different from a job at a fast food restaurant or a retail store,” says one student co-designer and intern in a reflection. “And in school, you’re really just going to get through it,” she adds. “For the first time, I’m learning things that I’m going to apply in life, and I think that’s the real beauty in this.”
Individual agency is a significant driver of innovation in education, and the WQ model empowers youth with voice and choice in how they earn and learn, as noted by a summer intern: “Before this internship, I felt that many people saw me as soft-spoken. I have been able to take more charge and initiative to show others what I am capable of.” The LWJ team recognizes and prioritizes student-centered learning. Notes another intern in a reflection, “Someone believed in me at a time when I didn’t believe in myself since everything that kept me busy and brought me joy was canceled due to COVID-19.”