International approaches to the development of graduate skills and attributes: opportunities for the next Learning and Teaching Strategy? Michelle Blake, Nigel Dandy and Bruna Zappia For discussion (5 minutes) Do you have a clear concept of the development of skills/attributes through the course of a programme in your department? How does this influence the design of individual modules?
Motivation for the Project An exploration of approaches to skill development would help us to consider: ways of structuring the progression of skills development; programme level thinking; understanding the York Graduate;
communications to students. Key Findings from the Literature Review A lot of the relevant research has been done in Australian universities. Two broad approaches to skill development emerge: built-in and bolt-on.
The built-in approach appears to be more effective. but its more complex than this! The Continuum Bolt-on Approach: Example The University of Nottingham Extracurricular course to develop students employability skills and career awareness. Investigation of a particular career area.
Student-centred and problem-based approach. Successful in developing a number of skills. Bolt-on Approach ADVANTAGES DISADVANTAGES 1. Can be assessed through conventional measures/techniques; 2. Skill development is clearly apparent and well articulated to students;
3. Can easily be interpreted for CV purpose/ job applications; 4. Students awareness of their skills increases substantially; 5. Enhances student self-confidence in skill development. 1. Failure to reach all students (if optional); 2. Overreliance on lengthy guidelines which students find difficult to read and apply in practice; 3. Divorce of skills from disciplinary knowledge and content; 4. Encourages a fragmented curriculum and a mechanistic approach to teaching and learning; 5. Risk of marginalising skills, with no organic linkages with the rest of a
student programme; 6. Adds more content and work to crowded curriculum; 7. Restricts the number of subjectdiscipline options students can take. The Continuum Partial Built-in Approach: Example The University of Sunshine Coast The London School of Economics Holistic approach to teaching information and academic literacy. Innovative module: LSE100. Challenges students to think like a social scientist. Attempts to develop:
Methodological skills; Information skills; Communication skills. Source: Einfalt and Turley (2009) Partial Built-in Approach ADVANTAGES DISADVANTAGES 1. Teaching and learning the skills at a deeper level because of the collaboration with academics; 2. Skills can be learned at increasingly difficult levels; 3. Skills can be taught at the point of need; 4. Move towards a more holistic approach
to course delivery; 5. Encourages collaboration between academic and support departments; 6. Increases students awareness of their responsibility as learners; 7. Changes teaching methods to reflect a greater concern for students skills; 8. Puts skill development at the centre of changing assessment regimes. 1. Students confusion why different teaching strategies (some skills embedded and some not); 2. Students difficulty/resistance to switch between different learning approaches; 3. Reliance on academics availability to coteach skills in their lectures (possible resistance).
The Continuum Total Built-in Approach Graduate Attributes the skills, knowledge and abilities of university graduates, beyond disciplinary content knowledge, which are applicable in a range of contexts and are acquired as a result of completing any undergraduate degree. They should represent the core achievements of a university education (Barrie, 2006: 217). Total Built-in Approach: Example The University of Sydney Source: Barrie (2004) Total Built-in Approach: Example The University of Sydney
FACULTY OF SCIENCE: CONTEXTUALISED GRADUATE ATTRIBUTES Research and Inquiry. Graduates of the Faculty of Science will be able to create new knowledge and understanding through the process of research and inquiry. A1. Apply scientific knowledge and critical thinking to identify, define and analyse problems, create solutions, evaluate opinions, innovate and improve current practices. A2. Gather, evaluate and deploy information relevant to a scientific problem. A3. Design and conduct investigations, or the equivalent, and analyse and interpret the resulting data. A4. Critically examine the truth and validity in scientific argument and discourse, and evaluate the relative importance of ideas. A5. Disseminate new knowledge and engage in debate around scientific issues. A6. Value the importance of continual growth in knowledge and skills, and recognise the rapid and sometimes major changes in
scientific knowledge and technology. Information Literacy. Graduates of the Faculty of Science will be able to use information effectively in a range of contexts. Personal and Intellectual Autonomy. Graduates of the Faculty of Science will be able to work independently and sustainably, in a way that is informed by openness, curiosity and a desire to meet new challenges. Ethical, Social and Professional Understanding. Graduates of the Faculty of Science will hold personal values and beliefs consistent with their role as responsible members of local, national, international and professional communities Communication. Graduates of the Faculty of Science will recognise and value communication as a tool for negotiating and creating new understanding, interacting with others, and furthering their own learning. Source: The University of Sydney (2013a) Total Built-in Approach: Example The University of Sydney Source: The University of Sydney (2013c) Total Built-in Approach ADVANTAGES
DISADVANTAGES 1. 1. 2. 3. 4. Enhanced student satisfaction with their academic experience; 2. Application of knowledge and competence in the workplace; 3. Greater quality student learning of disciplinary content; 4. Greater student understanding of importance/relevance of GA;
5. Helps getting GA statements through to students; 6. Better articulation of university learning for CVs/interviews; 7. Helps students articulate how university has changed them to employers; 8. Helps coordinate/ present efforts in a cohesive way; 9. Framework helping students interpret/structure university experience; 10. Provides greater number of students with exposure to key skills development. 5. 6. 7. Skill development more difficult to assess; Contrasting/different views on what GA are; Conflict between multiple stakeholder groups;
Struggle to become a strategic priority (compete with research); Difficult to obtain buy-in/ ownership by academics; Requires investment to develop appropriate teaching resources; Requires increased staff development to acquire appropriate teaching skills. For discussion (5 minutes) Where does your departments approach fit on the continuum? The Empirical Study Focus: Total Built-In approach
Purpose: Investigate implementation of graduate attributes Participant institutions: University of Hull University of Sydney Oxford Brookes University The Empirical Study
Findings Key issues/challenges: Convincing academics of the value of skills; Assessment methods for skills; Engaging students; Curriculum mapping risk of seeing it as a revised documentation process; Co-ordinating integrated systematic approach; Understanding underlying conception;
Interruptions and discontinuity of implementation; Engaging HE institutions in a meaningful way; Measuring impact. Conclusions No neat distinction/classification into two approaches as the literature suggests.
Variation in universities approaches to skill development. University of Sydney: most integrated and comprehensive experience. Despite the challenges: growing belief in the value of graduate attributes. References Baker, G. and Henson, D. (2010). "Promoting employability skills development in a researchintensive university." Education + Training 52(1): 62-75. Barrie, S. C. (2004). "A research-based approach to generic graduate attributes policy " Higher
Education Research & Development 23(3): 261-275. Barrie, S. C. (2006). "Understanding what we mean by the generic attributes of graduates." Higher Education 51(2): 215-241. Einfalt, J. and Turley, J. (2009). "Engaging first year students in skill development: A three-way collaborative model in action." Journal of Academic Language & Learning 3(2): A105-A116. LSE (2013), LSE 100. The LSE Course, available from: http://www.lse.ac.uk/intranet/students/LSE100/LSE100Brochure.pdf Accessed on 10/10/2013 The University of Sydney (2013a), Faculty of Science: Contextualised Graduate Attributes, available from: http://www.itl.usyd.edu.au/graduateAttributes/facultyGA.cfm?faculty=Science Accessed on 10/10/2013 The University of Sydney (2013b), Implementation, available from: http://www.itl.usyd.edu.au/graduateAttributes/implementation.htm Accessed on 10/10/2013 The University of Sydney (2013c), Graduate Attributes Development in the Faculty of Science, available from: http://assign3.chem.usyd.edu.au/uos_outlines/program_selection.cfm?faculty=science Accessed on 10/10/2013
For discussion (20 minutes) How far should we pursue this theme in the next Learning and Teaching Strategy? Could/should we try to articulate a set of attributes/skills? How could it help to realise the vision for a University pedagogy?
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