Putting students in the hot seat: Using a Viva to assess and engage students in career development planning.

Karen Soulby

Parallel session 2,  Thunderstorm 2.2


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Short Abstract
This paper looks at a module which has been designed holistically to use informal experiential learning and a module assessment package, a Viva, which requires students to actively engage in their own employability journey. The positive outcomes of this have been improved student engagement in their career development plans, high levels of student satisfaction, and improved student self-confidence.

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Detailed Outline
In response to the Sheffield Business School employability imperative, a student centred module was introduced onto the BSc Tourism Management programme. Entitled ‘Tourism Industry Experience’ the aim of the module is to focus students in their efforts to begin their career path and development at level 5. As each student has differing career goals, and the impetus to achieving these goals needs to come from within the individual the emphasis of the module was that it should be student driven and created. Formal lectures and seminars were eschewed as it was felt they may encourage students to rely on directed content which was against the aims of the module. With minimal input to outline the requirements of the module, the module leader sets the task for the students to individually research by a number of means possible, desirable career pathways, suitable employers, desirable jobs including the knowledge and skills required and a first-hand experiential account of that job. Students are encouraged to project their career path into the next 10 years and design a plan in order for them to achieve their goal. The module makes use of informal learning spaces and uses a field trip to an international industry B2B event to inspire students. An innovative assessment strategy, seldom seen at UG level, the Viva, was used. Students are asked to present their career plan over 15 minutes to the module leader without the use of technology and ideally without notes. A mock event is videoed to allow students to reflect on their performance.
This presentation will examine what happened when students were deprived of their pens, phones, tablets, laptops etc. and asked to talk about themselves and their future in an interview situation. Despite student protests when faced with the challenge, the benefits of the student focus of the exercise were clear.

The outcomes of the module were:

• High levels of student engagement in their career development process
• High levels of student achievement
• High levels of staff satisfaction
• Positive student feedback
• High levels of student stress and anxiety