Increasing Psychological Literacy and Work Readiness
of Australian Psychology Undergraduates through a Capstone
and Work-Integrated Learning Experience: Current Issues
and What Needs to be Done
Kyra Hamilton ,
Shirley A. Morrissey ,
Lara J. Farrell,
Michelle C. Ellu,
and Erin L. O’Connor
School of Applied Psychology, Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Grifﬁth University, and
School of Psychology and Counselling, Queensland University
Objective: While most students undertaking bachelor level training in psychology will not become registered psychologists, as graduates
they join a large pool of well-educated and psychologically literate citizens who can apply psychology in a range of contexts. Our objective is
to showcase the literature on capstone and work integrated learning (WIL) courses and outline how these specialised courses could be uti-
lised to support undergraduate psychology students and ensure the community beneﬁts from their strengths.
Method: In this paper, we summarise the current issues, emerging trends, and educational priorities in this area. We provide a critical survey
of the extensive literature produced in the last decade, offering a synthesis of current thinking in the ﬁeld and perspectives on directions for-
ward. We review and summarise different primary studies on capstone and WIL courses from which we draw conclusions into a holistic inte-
gration gained by the authors’ own experience and the available literature.
Results: Capstone and WIL courses address a signiﬁcant gap in the work readiness of Australian psychology undergraduates and may also
consolidate these students’ psychological literacy.
Conclusions: Developing a sense of professional identity and increasing self-efﬁcacy in these graduates can enhance students’ work readi-
ness, potentially facilitating a smooth transition into professional work. We advocate for changes to the education of psychology undergradu-
ates and outline the implications for the future workforce.
Key words: capstone; psychological literacy; psychology undergraduates; work integrated learning.
What is already known on this topic
1 Most students who undertake undergraduate training in psy-
chology will not become psychologists.
2 There is a mismatch between student expectations and the
practical application of undergraduate training.
3 Psychology graduates who secure employment work in a
broad range of occupations.
What this paper adds
1 An overview of the available literature exploring the strengths
of capstone and work integrated learning (WIL) courses.
2 An update on how capstone and WIL courses enhance the
work readiness needs of undergraduate psychology students.
3 Recommendations for educators regarding the future of
undergraduate psychology education.
Psychology remains one of the most popular ﬁelds of higher
education in Australia. However, the vast majority of under-
graduate students do not continue on to post-graduate training
programs or register as professional psychologists, with esti-
mated reports as high as 66% (Borden & Rajecki, 2000;
Cranney & Dunn, 2011; O’Connor & Hansen, 2009; Upton &
Trapp, 2010). Australian undergraduate psychology programs
are traditionally a 3-year degree, with students competing for
entry into an honours/4-year program of study. To register as a
psychologist, students need to complete an additional 2 year
supervised work program, a combination of university course-
work as a ﬁfth year and one-year supervised work program, or
a Master’s or Professional Doctoral program (Littleﬁeld, 2016;
O’Connor & Hansen, 2009).
Currently, psychology undergraduate training is largely
based on the scientist–practitioner model, where students are
taught theoretical, discipline-speciﬁc knowledge to support
Correspondence: Kyra Hamilton, School of Applied Psychology, Grifﬁth
University, Messines Ridge Road, Brisbane, QLD 4122, Australia.
Accepted for publication 6 July 2017
Australian Psychologist 53 (2018) 151–160
© 2017 The Australian Psychological Society