Tag Archives: authentic learning

Passion or Profession? Are the employability skills developed by first year Business and Human Resources Management students valued by placement providers?

Michelle Blackburn, Chantelle Trickett & Jessica Foster

Parallel session 1, Short Paper 1.6

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Short Abstract
The paper explores how a new module, with a distinct technical HR employability focus (that involves website design skills), impacts upon student’s placement seeking success. It explores this theme through interviews with students and placement employers before evaluating the benefits and challenges of devising ‘authentic learning experiences’ to support employability skills development.

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Detailed Outline
This paper considers whether a first year Human Resource (HR) skills module for Business and HRM (Human Resource Management) undergraduates has realised any employability-related benefits. The module requires students to work in teams to build a corporate HR intranet using Google Sites. Student undertaking this assessment develop their team working, communication, negotiation and project management skills amongst others. Additionally they develop and formalise their HR knowledge and apply it to a specific company context.

To establish whether the module had the desired impact upon employability 10 employers (who had recruited students from this course onto year-long placements) and 12 former students (currently on placement) were interviewed to evaluate how the module design had impacted upon placement seeking success.

Data categorised according to 3 themes identified by Andrews and Higson (2008) found that ‘Business Specific’ subject knowledge/expertise was not relevant for all employers with 60% of them listing general business and psychology degrees as example pre-cursors for HR recruits. However, 40% of employers were very interested in course-related HR skills development. They tended to be the organisations with smaller local HR departments. By interesting comparison 75% of students felt that their HR degree made a difference.

The second theme, Interpersonal Competence (soft skills) was valued by all employers and just over 80% of students. Both groups acknowledged this was mostly identified during interview/assessment centre activities.

The final theme, Work Experience also had a significant role to play in the selection decision. Half of employers suggested student’s previous work experience had a significant role to play in short-listing decisions. Nearly 60% of students felt it made a significant difference to their application and selection success.

These findings suggest that the employment market is nuanced, and simply having the right titles and employability skills development strategy does not guarantee success.

306 – Two projects in Creative Arts Practice (2013) – Jerome Harrington, Tim Machin

Consisting of two back-to-back presentations this session will discuss two projects that have taken place with Level 6 Creative Arts Practice students (ACES). The projects were conceived to run concurrently with the shared ambition to develop the students sense of identity of their own developing art practice, within the context of this relatively new course.  Both projects instigated discussions which have continued over the year, and have influenced the students final exhibition at Creative Spark.   Jerome Harrington This project involved the production of a map which locates and visualises the position of individual practices within the year group, and locates these practices in relation to the larger sphere of art and design.    The students worked collectively to plot the position of their own work and that of their peers on a large collaged wall ‘map’.  This process of co-construction created a forum in which ideas were shared, and ignited debate regarding the identity of individual practices, as well as that of the course. The project, revealed the diversity of interests and working methods in this year group, and subsequently helped the students to foster clusters of related research interests.     Tim Machin Following Jerome’s project, the students were challenged to test their emerging notion of practice through exhibiting a piece of their work in the wider university. Students were asked to find a location which would add something to their work – for example, a context which subtly changed the meaning or reception of the work, or a space enabling them to work on a more ambitious scale. The project posed significant practical issues (around estates, health and safety) but in encouraging students to engage with these, offered genuine experience of the challenges of exhibiting art work in public spaces.

261 – Successful TNE: Engagement or Positioning Theory? – Alison Macfarlane and Hazel Horobin

Anticipated outcomes: Participants will have an opportunity to consider what makes for meaningful and authentic learning in an international context

Session outline (or abstract): max 300 words

Much of the literature relating to teaching international students focuses on ‘managerialist’ issues associated with what is done to the learner and the efficiencies generated by activities such overseas teaching (Altbach, 2007).  Conversely, relatively little research exists in relation to the meanings generated for participants by that teaching (Edwards and Usher, 2008).  The current down turn in international student numbers into the Allied Health Department has prompted outreach work in the form of Transnational Education (TNE) in Asia that aims to continue to develop both recruitment and partnership working.  There are divided opinions on the issue of adaptability in transnational programmes.  Some suggest that pedagogic practice should be in line with the cultural context of the students (Kelly and Tak, 1998); others disagree and claim that the impact of cultural differences can be reduced by use of the principles of good teaching regardless of the course location (Biggs, 1997).

The authors have both successfully undertaken TNE this academic year and they discuss their approaches to TNE founded on theoretical constructs that align with opposite ends of the pedagogic discourse around adaptability.  Alison used an engagement approach aiming to generate a collaborative classroom, she and students pursued together worthwhile and meaningful answers to practice problems generated by the students.  The non-academic, ‘authentic’ activity and real skill development enabled the qualified physiotherapist participants to build on their previous knowledge as well as expand existing skills (Kearsley and Shneiderman, 1999).   Hazel used an appreciation of positioning theory to challenge notions of traditional roles (Langenhove and Harré 1999) and shape classroom encounters and generate a positive and welcoming academic environment, consistent with good pedagogic practice  (Ryan and Viete, 2009).  The discussion demonstrates that both approaches have strengths, but also issues that need to be taken into consideration in complex teaching arenas.

Session activities for engagement: Discussion of how practices relate or not to theoretical constructs and explores the meaning of teaching and learning effectiveness in different contexts.


ALTBACH, P.G. (2007) ‘The Internationalization of Higher Education: Motivations and Realities’ Journal of Studies in International Education, 11 (3-4): 290-305

BIGGS, J.B. (1997). Teaching across and within cultures: the issue of international students. In Murray-Harvey, R. & Silins, H.C. (Eds.) Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Advancing International Perspectives, Proceedings of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Conference (Adelaide), HERDSA, 1-22.

EDWARDS, R. and USHER, R. (1997) ‘27th Annual SCUTREA Conference Proceedings 1997.  Crossing Borders, Breaking Boundaries: Research in the Education of Adults.  Globalisation and a Pedagogy of (Dis)location’ [www] http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/000000225.htm

(Last accessed 20th December 2010)

KEARSLEY, G., & SHNEIDERMAN, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved March, 20013, from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

KELLY, M.E., & TAK, S.H. (1998). Borderless education and teaching and learning cultures: the case of Hong Kong. Australian Universities’ Review, 41(1), 26-33.

RYAN, J and VIETE, R (2009).  Respectful Interactions:  Learning with International Students in the English Speaking Academy. Teaching in Higher Education. 14 (3), 303-314.

van LANGENHOVE, L. and HARRÉ, R. (1999) Introducing Positioning Theory.  In Harré, R. and van Langenhove, L. (Eds). Positioning Theory.  Oxford, Blackwell

Click to view presentation:  261 Successful TNE

254 – The development of a relationship centred community nursing programme – Patricia Day and Jill Gould

The specialist community nursing programmes were recently revalidated to meet the increasingly complex needs of clients in the community. Content was influenced by and in some instances pre-empted government policies based on client-centred care (DH 2010, DH 2011b, DH 2012). National agendas regarding children, families and the elderly highlight the demand for transformational nursing practitioners to lead services (DH 2011, DH 2013).

Research into effective interactions with clients has begun to change the face of health care. There is now less emphasis on advice giving and more on client autonomy, self-care and choice (DH 2012, DH 2012b). The new curriculum is based on the premise of ‘making every contact count’ (Cummings and Bennett 2012) and the latest evidence based approaches to engage with clients and work collaboratively with them. The programme innovatively meets the professional requirements for specialist practice (NMC 2001 and NMC 2004) through a skills based approach and the close connection between theory and practice. The spirit of motivational interviewing (Miller and Rollnick 2013) underpins the curriculum enabling students to work in partnership with clients in making lifestyle changes and to increase self-efficacy to optimize health outcomes.

A spiral curriculum means that the foundations of person-centred care and behaviour change taught in the first semester are built on in in the later stages of the programme. This includes exploration of complex client need and the leadership and teaching skills required to transform practice. The new programme has been delivered and positively evaluated by two student cohorts, with two further cohorts in progress. This session explores our experience of delivering the new programme and how a cohesive interdisciplinary delivery and spiral structure have contributed to excellent evaluations and high student achievement.

Cummings J and Bennett V (DH) (2012) Developing the culture of compassionate care: creating a new vision for nurses, midwives and care-givers

DH (2010) Liberating the NHS

DH (2011) Health Visitor Implementation Plan 2011–15

DH (2011b) The Operating Framework for the NHS in England 2012/13

DH (2012) Liberating the NHS: Developing the Healthcare Workforce From Design to Delivery

DH (2012b) Health Visitor Teaching in Practice: A Framework Intended for Use for Commissioning, Education and Clinical Practice of Practice Teachers (PTs)

DH – Department of Public Health Nursing (2013) Care in local communities – district nurse vision and model

Francis R (2013) Report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry Executive summary TSO

Miller W and Rollnick S (2013) Motivational Interviewing New York Guilford Press

Nursing and Midwifery Council (2001) Standards for specialist education and practice

Nursing and Midwifery Council (2004) Standards of proficiency for specialist community public health nurses 

Presentation:  254 LTA conference presentation 2013 SCPHN and CSP

243 – Creating and Manipulating Images using Maths and a Spreadsheet – Jeff Waldock

Experiential or active learning is a powerful mechanism for enhancing student motivation and engagement.  At one level it can demonstrate real-world applications of abstract theory, deepening and embedding understanding of it; at another it can represent realistic work-related learning. The mathematics programme at SHU is distinctive in the sector because in addition to developing subject-specific skills it focuses on developing real practical skills in applying mathematics, with graduates better prepared for the workplace.  This presentation will describe one specific mathematical modelling activity in which students research mathematical algorithms to implement a variety of effects on a digital photograph.  The mathematics involved can be very simple, such as using addition to brighten an image – or more advanced, requiring two dimensional calculus for sharpening an image. Students are very familiar with using spreadsheets, and therefore an Excel add-in has been developed which can take a digital image and import the individual pixel values into the worksheets of a workbook.  Existing skills can be used to carry out the necessary effects; the add-in provides a mechanism for recompiling a jpeg image from the worksheets. Because an image can be compiled directly from the worksheets, this paves the way for more creative use to be made of mathematical skills in generating images from scratch.  Students have found this to be a great way to explore their creative side – something rare in a mathematics programme.  Examples of images created using mathematics in this way will be shown, including the development of movies generated by running successive images together.  The experiences of a group of final year undergraduate students who have used the software will be described and some possible extensions and other applications explored.

Click to view presentation:  243 SHU_LTA_19June13_Digimages

235 – Empowering students to develop their employability by applying their course learning in a module – Anne Nortcliffe, Jacky Stallard, Matthew Love, Students

Bad experiences of assessment in the form of tests and exams can turn them away from learning (Berry, 2008). Engagement and attainment increases when students know that assessment will promote their learning (Black et al., 2003; Pat-El et al., 2013). Assessment for learning engages and empowers students because they can see their learning develop (Stiggins, 2002). Project-based learning results in assessment which is learner-centered due to its experiential approach and its capacity to scaffold students as they develop their professional skills (McLoughlin and Luca, 2002); an example of this being project management skills . Applied as group assessment to solve authentic challenging problems, Project-Based Learning requires students to adopt processes for identifying and analysing important activities, and then planning and pursuing these activities (Solomon, 2002). Complex problems encourage collaborative learning techniques amongst students as they identify, analyse and organise their solutions (Barkley et al., 2005). This workshop will provide a hands-on opportunity for module and course leaders, and students to correlate course/module learning outcomes with graduate employability skills and will involve the design of an authentic Project-Based Learning assessment framework used to assist students in collaboratively developing their professional skills. The workshop also provides an opportunity to hear from module tutors, a course leader and students on how such approach has empowered students to draw together course learning by providing realistic solutions for the project management of a development of sustainable technology for attendance monitoring.

235 workshop LTA PMCD v2

272 – Everyone’s a Winner: Using A Professional Conference As An LTA Strategy that engages students, staff and the sport industry – Sarah Wenham

Anticipated outcomes:• To outline an innovative model of LTA involving the use of a professional conference format• To demonstrate how external industry partners can be used in the development of students’ professional practice • To highlight how Twitter can be used to provide effective communication between speaker and student delegates. The session will explain the concept behind the Conference and how it benefits staff, students and the industry. The 7th annual Sheffield Hallam Physical Education, Sport Development and Coaching (PESDC) student conference was held on the 7th & 8th of January 2013. The event has grown in size and reputation in terms of the number of students and speakers that have been involved and the profile that it has gained both internally and externally. 50% of the students who attend the conference do so as part of assessed modules and the hours at the conference contribute to their module learning hours. This conference is still the only event of its kind within the HE sector and provides our courses with an extremely valuable USP against our competitors. Headline Statistics:• student delegates: 550 UG and PG students from the Academy of Sport and Physical Activity• workshops: 65 led by professionals from the sport industry• speakers who are Sheffield Hallam Sport Alumni: 28  Examples of Feedback from Speakers: Alan Bell International Athletics Federation and The Youth Sport Trust: ” The 2013 PESDC gave a fascinating insight to how Sheffield Hallam is endeavouring to provide an enriched experience for their students. Such opportunities for that range of subjects are, in my experience, rare for undergraduates. The University should be congratulated for a unique and well-structured event” The conference had a Twitter feed #PESDCC13 which proved very popular with both students and speakers them to communicate directly with each other. Conference website: http://extra.shu.ac.uk/pesdc/index.php

Presentation: http://prezi.com/fyclkkhlkqfr/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

Conference programme:  272 Sheffield Hallam Conference Brochure