WBL Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms Related to Work-Based Learning

A vast cluster of activities occurs under the umbrella of “Work-Based Learning.”  This glossary is an attempt to help clarify the most common terms associated with Work-Based Learning. It is hoped that a common language will facilitate communication both within and across educational institutions and organizations.






See Registered Apprenticeship.

Community Based Learning

Community-Based Learning (CBL) is curriculum based while related community work is directly connected to classroom lectures, and assignments. CBL is an educational philosophy which encourages critical thinking, social responsibility, and civic engagement. Students learn through experience and reflection of “real world” situations.

Note: CBL is encouraged with nonprofit agencies, are short term and unpaid.



A supervised work based learning experience that links a learner with an employer for a planned set of activities often designed to give the learner a broad overview of a business or occupational field. Note: May be short term or long term, paid or unpaid.

Job Shadowing

Activity in which an individual spends time with a worker on the job, observing actual workplace tasks in order to explore a potential career interest. Typically short term


On The Job Training (OJT)

OJT is a paid work experience in which a person is taught specific job skills by an employer.  OJT is usually associated with employment and training programs such as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Vocational Rehabilitation, an Apprenticeship program.

Note: Most OJT programs provide some funding for the workers’ wages.

Registered Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship is a structured training model that combines on-the-job training and related technical instruction in which workers learn the practical and theoretical aspects of a highly skilled occupation. Registration is with the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training and ensures standards of fairness, safety and training. Apprentices who complete the experience receive a credential issued by the Department of Labor and a Certificate from the Educational Institution.


The practice of volunteering one’s time or talents for charitable, educational, or other worthwhile activities, especially in one's community.  Local not-for-profits, community-based organizations, and government agencies recruit volunteers for unpaid work that may range from one-time opportunities (e.g., for special events or fundraisers) to recurring or ongoing openings, including volunteer/unpaid internships.

Work Experience Program

Work Experience Program refers to learning that results from work experience that is planned to contribute to the intellectual and career development of students. The On-the-job experiences is intended to increase the employability of participants -- included are a variety of federal job training, vocational, career education, and corrections programs often less structured than formal internship programs.  

Note: On the job experiences not to be confused with on the job training.”