Educational Resources Lets Talk Science Challenge participants

Learning About Educational Pathways

Learning About Educational Pathways (Alexyz3d, iStockphoto)

Learning About Educational Pathways

Let's Talk Science
7,  8,  9,  10,  11,  12
AB,  BC,  MB,  NB,  NL,  NS,  NT,  NU,  ON,  PE,  QC,  SK,  YT
Guidance & Careers
Career Development
Career Exploration
Career Preparation
Career Options
Educational Pathways


Students will be aware of and understand the importance of, various learning pathways that lead to successful life and work experiences.
Students will become aware of the variety of STEM careers available in each of these different learning pathways.

Setting the Stage

In order to successfully gain and maintain employment, it is essential for people to make educational preparations in which they will gain skills, knowledge, and qualifications. While career aspiration will normally dictate the type of educational path required, students are often unaware of the different educational pathways that are available, or the pros and cons of each pathway. The four learning pathways addressed in this activity are those that result in a Degree, Diploma, Certificate, or an Apprenticeship.

Material & Preparation

  • Arrange for computer and internet access for students working in pairs or groups.
  • Download the Educational Pathways and Experiences Reproducible (1 per student) [Google Doc] [PDF]

What to Do

Teachers could start by getting students to share what they know about the different educational pathways available. Teachers could provide a list of these four educational pathways than can lead to a successful career: 

  • Apprenticeship 
  • Certificate
  • Degree
  • Diploma

Students could be asked which pathways they plan to take and why.Students could be asked if they know the different types of careers that are available through the different educational pathways. Teachers should help students recognize the importance of aligning the educational pathway with career plans.Students could work with a partner to complete this activity. Teachers could lead a class discussion in which students contribute their thinking to the class. 

Teachers might also point out that another type of pathway exists which might be called ‘learning on the job.’ People in this type of pathway might go direct from school and work their way ‘up the ladder’ in an industry (e.g., Bryan Wilson). People in this pathway may receive training and certificates. Normally these certifications are only recognized by the company that issued them unless the training is provided by an outside agency. Some people will follow a particular educational pathway but take a ‘learn on the job’ position that has little or nothing to do with their formal education. Sometimes ‘learn on the job’ education is provided as a person moves from one position to another within a company or sector.

Teachers could arrange students into pairs or small groups to research the four types of educational experiences to provide: 

  • Definition/Brief Description
  • Length of Program
  • The type of post-secondary institution that offers the type of education  

Teachers could then provide students with the ready-to-use Educational Pathways and Experiences Reproducible and direct students to the Let’s Talk Science careers website. Here they will search for profiles of individuals who have completed the following types of education experiences:  

  • Apprenticeship 
  • Certificate
  • Degree
  • Diploma

After groups have completed the Reproducible, teachers could lead a whole class discussion using the reflection questions provided.

As a concluding activity, teachers could lead a discussion to debrief what students have learned through this activity. Some points to raise are:

  • The key differences between the different educational experiences
  • Why a person might consider one educational pathway over another
  • The perceived benefits of each educational pathway
  • Which educational pathway is most likely to lead to a career that provides a satisfying lifestyle

As an extension, students will search for a career profile of person in an occupation that is of interest to them. After they have located a profile of interest, teachers could have students reflect on their choice using the following questions:

  • Why are they interested in this career? 
  • Which educational pathway would they have to follow? 
  • Where could they get the required education?


  • Teachers make anecdotal records of students’ participation in class and small group discussion.
  • Teachers make anecdotal records of students’ participation in class and small group discussion.

Learning About Educational Pathways Reproducible [Google Doc] [PDF]


Learning About Educational Pathways Reproducible [Google Doc] [PDF]