Key features of quality placements

In the video below, Ruth and Lucy, clinical education liaison managers at the University of Queensland, discuss how commitment and preparation, managing expectations, positive learning environments and collaboration between universities, students, supervisors, and organisations are essential elements of a quality student placement.

The quality of placement you can provide

Quality student placements provide learning opportunities that meet student needs and address the university criteria/competencies for the placement.

Factors that enable quality in student placements:

  • Learning environments where workplace culture allows the development of positive relationships and actively supports and rewards evidence-based practice
  • Learning environments that anticipate and manage occupational health and safety, ethical and legal risks
  • Authentic professional contexts where students engage in meaningful activities designed to enhance and integrate learning into practice
  • Effective communication and collaboration between students, academic institutions, and placement sites to adequately prepare for the placement experience
  • Clear expectations of both the student, the supervisor, the university, and the placement site
  • Adequate orientation of students
  • Learning opportunities that allow students to focus on integrating theoretical knowledge with practice (applying their university learning with workplace application)
  • Learning opportunities that are diverse and appropriate for student competence and comprise, at least in part, of supported participation in direct patient care
  • Learning opportunities where learning objectives, workplace activities and assessment are aligned to produce effective, relevant, meaningful, and intended outcomes for everyone (especially students)
  • Effective supervision including appropriate levels of autonomy, responsibility, and feedback
  • Effective assessment that aligns with intended learning outcomes
  • Ongoing evaluation of student learning and evaluation of the placement program offered

Challenges that may impact the quality of placement:

  • Limited opportunities to experience diversity and cultural responsiveness
  • Limited student contact with their supervisor and/or peer learning opportunities
  • Insufficient supports, resources and facilities provided by the university and/or workplace to support student placements (e.g., sites, supervisors, learning advisors counselling)
  • Workplace incivility and aggression which threatens the socio-emotional and physical safety of students in the placement environment
  • Occupational stress which induces states of anxiety that inhibit learning, impair performance, and compromise health and wellbeing

If you identify local challenges to placement quality, then you might provide structure and learning opportunities to address these challenges before deciding to offer a student placement.   

Please Note: References remain valid until superseded by later research. The resources referenced here are regularly reviewed and are considered current and relevant to the topics presented.
  • McAllister, L. and Lincoln, M. (2004) Clinical Education in Speech Language Pathology. Whurr: London.
  • McAllister, L., Paterson, M., Higgs, J. and Bithell, C. (2010). Innovations in allied health fieldwork education. Sense: Rotterdam.
  • Rodger, S., Fitzgerald, C., Davila, W., Millar, F. and Allison, H. (2011). What makes a quality occupational therapy practice placement? Students’ and practice educators’ perspectives. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 58, 195–202.
  • Smith, C., and Simbag, V. [n.d.] Griffith Institute for Higher Education Good Practice Guide on Work Integrated Learning (WIL) in the Curriculum. Griffith University.
  • Siggins Miller Consultants. (2012). Promoting quality in clinical placements: Literature review and national stakeholder consultation. HWA, Adelaide.
  • Campbell, M., Russell, L., Smith, L., McALliester, L., Tunny, R., Thomson, K. & Barrett, M. (2019) A framework for the institutional quality assurance of work integrated learning. Australian Collaborative Education Network. Available at: FINAL-FRAMEWORK-DEC-2019.pdf (
  • Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (2022) Guidance note: Work-integrated learning Version 2.0. Australian Government. Available at: Guidance Note: Work-integrated learning | Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (
  • Winchester-Seeto, T., (2019) Quality and Standards for Work Integrated Learning Australian Council of Health Science Deans and AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING. Available at: Winchester-Seeto-Literature-Review-Quality-and-Standards.pdf (








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