Tag Archives: graduate attributes

3.7 The PassPort Portal: An online resource to support transition to an International Future

This paper shares the outcomes of a project, developed in collaboration with Robert Gordon University and funded by the HEA, which seeks to develop a range of learning activities informed by data gathered from a bespoke online employer and alumni portal developed by the two universities.

The project demonstrates the benefits of institutional collaboration by bringing together an expanded, diversified, yet complementary, portfolio of courses and participants through which to identify and develop graduate attributes associated with global practice in urban regeneration, architecture, and construction management. The PassPort portal unites senior students, alumni and employers, with mutual benefits arising from this network. It offers a broad scope to investigate global practices and develop intercultural competencies and skills, through harnessing the diverse experiences and backgrounds of students, alumni, and employer contacts.

Ultimately, it is intended that the resultant learning enables students to ‘pass through’ the portal, effecting the transition from student to effective international professional and practitioner.

The project is conceived around three principal dimensions of student engagement, as follows:

• Engagement through an interactive learning process that enhances the

future competitiveness of graduates in an increasingly global industry

• Central involvement of students in the project’s development, and as co-creators

of the process and its outcomes

• Student engagement in activity that enhances the quality and richness of


The increasing importance of companies operating successfully in the international arena means that the realm of contemporary professional practice extends beyond the bounds of any single culture (Ameri, 2008). Consequently, in common with the wide variety of transferrable and non-discipline specific skills taught across the HE sector, global competencies are regarded by industry as a vital facet of 21st century graduate attributes (Yorke, 2006).

232 – Hallam Award- from skillset to graduateness – Simona Andreea Pantiru, Arpit Sheth, Simon Kilpatrick, Charmaine Myers

Employability is considered to be ‘a set of achievements (…) that make graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations’ (Yorke, 2004). Our study aims to provide a better understanding of the experiences of Sheffield Hallam University students involved in the Hallam Award (Hallam Union, 2013). This award designed for SHU students not only demonstrates their employability skills, but also offers the prestige of an award that allows them to present themselves as different from other graduates new to the job market. However, participation in the award is relatively low with an average of 300 students taking part each year and only a third of those students complete the award. This research will shed some light on the perceived advantages and disadvantages of an employability award at student level, and make recommendations for future selection criteria and restrictions in categories. It is recognised by employers that graduates need to enter the job market not only with a good degree, but also with a developed set of employability skills (CBI, 2009).  The methodology used will be both quantitative and qualitative and evidence will be collected in the form of an online questionnaire and semi-structured interviews with students with the collaboration of the Student Union. After data collection, data will be analysed using quantitative SPSS analysis and also thematic analysis for qualitative data. It is anticipated that by gaining an understanding for low participation in the Hallam award, proposals can be made to foster student involvement and completion of the award. And in doing so, facilitate students in developing their competitiveness in the labour market, supporting the recent Wilson Review recommendations “to develop and record students’ employability, enterprise and entrepreneurial skills” (Wilson, 2012).

232 hallam award

2012 Education for employment: career learning within the curriculum

Patricia Quinn

Sheffield Hallam University has a longstanding and deserved national reputation for the excellence of its work on the development of its students’ employability. Following on from work undertaken through a successful 5 year Centre for Excellence in Employability a coherent University wide strategy has now been adopted which is to be implemented from September 2012 through a series of enabling frameworks. The Career Management Skills Framework is central to these as it is applicable to every student in the University irrespective of their course or level of study. It comprises a set of core competencies related to an individual’s career planning needs to be delivered through a range of indicative activities integrated in modules across all levels of each course of study. It is designed to enable students to make the most of the graduate skills and attributes they will have developed through their course and co-curricula activities and experiences in a way that should ensure they are able to compete effectively for employment, further study and other life opportunities or develop their own business plans.  It provides students with a toolkit with which they can develop individualised plans through discussions with Faculty academic and support staff and members of the Careers and Employment Service as appropriate.

Much excellent practice already exists in many courses but there are still inconsistencies in the experience of many students. How can we meet the challenges presented by a full roll out of integrated career management activities in remaining courses, to be delivered largely by non specialist staff in a manner that is inclusive of all students, in an already overcrowded curriculum? How do we ensure that robust connections are made with other related curriculum activities such as work based / related learning, individual tutorials with staff, and additional awards.

A5 – (FU54) 11.00

2012 Enhancing students’ employability through foreign study and work placements

Chris Lyne and Rachel Bower

Developing employability skills has always been at the core of the language degree programme at Sheffield Hallam University, with a combined 18 month study and work placement abroad being a key component of this philosophy. This extended period abroad is unique amongst H.E. institutions and has played a key role in continuing to attract students to the languages programme at a time when numbers nationally have been in decline.  

This paper will describe how employability is embedded into the curriculum of the languages degree programme at SHU.  It will focus specifically on the central role of foreign study and work placements in developing a range of employability, entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship skills and how the curriculum is designed to prepare and support students during the period abroad.  It will also examine the specific skills and attributes which students acquire through studying, living and working abroad.  These include not only high level language skills and the ability to operate across cultures, but also a range of personal attributes such as the ability to deal with uncertainty, independence, resilience, flexibility, self-reliance and personal efficacy. 

As these skills are highly prized by employers, the paper will look at the opportunities to extend the offer of study and work placements  to students in other subject areas in order to further internationalise the curriculum at SHU and prepare students to compete in the global workplace.

Presentation:  Developing the Global Graduate

A6 – (FU39 and FU33) 11.00

2012 How do you grow yourself? A study of students’ learning behaviours and matters relating to personal development in a module on career management

Richard McCarter and Emma Heron

This session examines student and staff experience of personal development through an employability and career management skills module. The module covers 2 semesters and the first semester deals with theoretical aspects of work and the workplace combined with reflection on learners’ work related experiences. The second semester (from which this paper is largely derived) focuses on career management strategies and is designed to be practically-based, raising students’ levels of self awareness in relation to their own career management needs and necessitating reflection and action on personal attributes.  The student is thus challenged on many different levels: pedagogically through less conventional delivery of teaching and assessment tasks and a heavy emphasis on reflection; personally through the need to embrace the idea of a curriculum that is not an easy fit with their own definition of academic study;  professionally, through the need to accept the reality of an increasingly unpredictable and competitive employment future.  For the teacher of career management, these challenges translate into a polarity of student response; a core of ‘converted’ (where engagement with the module, including the assessment task, is regarded as positive and worthwhile) versus a group of largely unconvinced sceptics, where attitude, attendance and reflection are influenced, and where engagement is at best reluctant, at worst non-existent.

An evaluation was conducted to gain a broad view of student experience, with a questionnaire delivered in a mid-semester lecture, followed by one to one structured interviews with ‘converts’ and ‘sceptics’ alike (the latter through snowballing techniques in order to capture the views of non-attendees).   Submitted webfolios by the students have also been evaluated. One-to -one discussions with teaching staff have been carried out.

The results contribute to a debate for practitioners and academics on the aspects of embedding employability into the curriculum and teaching career management.  Encouraging students to confront, realise and evaluate overtly their own ‘deficiencies’ and/or strengths through structured and less conventional lecture and seminar formats,  class/shared activities and a sense of being challenged, demands personal learning .  Does it work? How does reflection help or hinder?

Questions raised in interviews and data collected from e-portfolios and the module evaluation draw on 3 key areas –

  • an increase of students’ self-awareness of employability either through the  module activities and by undertaking the assessment
  • how reflection and reflective practice augmented students’ understanding of personal development
  • tutors’ and students’ perceptions of the emphasis on work related experiences, lectures and seminar contact time, rather than content delivered through technology (Blackboard and Pebblepad) 

Schön, D, A. (2009)  The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action.

Qualitative Social Work 2009 vol. 8 no. 1 124-129

Ehiyazaryan, E. and Barraclough, N. (2009) Enhancing employability: integrating real world experience in the curriculum. Education and Training. 51 (4), pp292-308. Available from: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?issn=0040-0912

Dacre Pool, L. and Sewell, P. (2007) The Key to Employability. Developing a practical model of graduate employability. Education and Training. 49 (4), pp277- 289. Available from: http://www.uclan.ac.uk/information/uclan/employability/careeredge.php

Zepke, N and Leach, L. (2010) Improving student engagement: Ten proposals for action. Active Learning in Higher Education 11(3) 167–177

Click to presentation:  How do you grow yourself? A study of students’ learning behaviours and matters relating to personal development in a module on career management

A4 – (FU37, FU05) 11.00

2012 Interdisciplinary student projects: enhancing students’ research projects

Christine Le Maitre, D Smith, J Langley, E Lockley, J Westerman, K Vernon-Parry, S Choppin, J Wheat and F Caparrelli

Interdisciplinary working and thinking practices are an increasingly important attribute essential in many work places and disciplines. However, the majority of our courses do not bridge across disciplines or embed the skills required to communicate with other disciplines. 

The Engineering for Life Shadow executive as part of a program to encouraging multidisciplinary work connived a program of student based research projects. Applications were invited from all areas of the University to support student projects which involved more than one department or research centre. An initial networking lunch to establish new connections between staff members across the University was held resulting in a number of applications for funded projects. Projects had to involve academics/students from at least two disciplines/departments within the project team. Each project was supported with additional funding to enable purchase of additional items that would not normally be possible from departmental budgets aimed to enhance the student projects. In this initial study 5 interdisciplinary student projects were funded with involvement from across the University.

In order to enhance the students experience and employability as a result of undertaking the interdisciplinary projects the students will  present their work within a mini student conference. This will enable further dissemination of their work and improving communication skills and enhancing their prospects within the ever challenging work environments. 

This workshop will report and reflect on the experiences of these projects and aim to promote discussion of continuation of the scheme and expansion to enable more students to benefit from the working practices and facilities across departments and faculties. Including discussions of further student projects, and an the establishment of an interdisciplinary student club.

C3 – (FU35) 14.20

2012 Online problem based learning for PG students: does it deliver flexible skilled professionals or specialists with gaps in their knowledge?

Heidi Probst and David Eddy

Universities must provide us with people with the ability to continually learn, to think critically and theoretically, to be reflective and reflexive, to innovate and break the status quo, and to navigate in the unstable waters of the global economy” David Docherty (Gaurdian 05/05/2012) 

Should educators focus on teaching skills that in ten years of the students working life may become obsolete? While the employability and skills agenda is important, is the overriding responsibility of educators to produce critically reflective, continual learners that are able to innovate and flexible enough to accommodate the changing employment landscape?

Problem Based learning (PBL) is an established pedagogy that uses ill-structured questions to stimulate learning. Authentic problems are posed under restrictive deadlines to simulate real work issues. Knowledge is constructed by exploring the problem and dialoguing about it in small groups. It is argued that PBL succeeds in developing students that can:

  • Define a problem
  • Develop a tentative thesis about the problem and solution
  • Access, evaluate, and utilise data from a variety of sources
  • Alter hypotheses given new information
  • Develop solutions fit for purpose, with clearly explicated reasoning. 

In an online environment it can engage students by harnessing real work issues potentiating the development of inspired solutions that can change practice/services. 

However, as PBL focuses on a small section of the curriculum is knowledge development constrained? Can PBL meet specialist regulatory body requirements? 

This session will be of interest to proponents of PBL and those with reservations about its impact and usefulness; particularly the ability to use this pedagogy with online students. 

Potential questions:

1. If the aim of modern Universities is to produce critically reflective, innovative workers is PBL a suitable pedagogy to employ? 

2. Does it matter that by using PBL the content delivered to the student may be less than that attributed to more traditional methods?

Click for presentation:  Online problem based learning for PG students: does it deliver flexible skilled professionals or specialists with gaps in their knowledge?

C4 – (FU30, FU06, FU08, FU32) 14.20

2012 Practitioner partnership model delivers transformative student learning experience

Chris Cutforth, Steve Wood, Val Stevenson and students

This session will highlight an innovative learning and teaching approach involving a partnership between an academic and an industry practitioner to deliver a post-graduate sport module which focuses on strategic thinking, planning and management skills. 

Along with the more traditional module learning outcomes, the goal has been to enable students to think differently and to help create ‘leaders of the future’.  

Chris Cutforth, Senior Lecturer in Sport, and Steve Wood, a freelance corporate and personal coach, whose specialities include business excellence, coaching and corporate theatre, have worked together to create a learning experience which challenges traditional sports industry thinking and practice, combining relevant academic content with generic leading edge principles, practices, tools and techniques. 

The module has been delivered using various innovative approaches including role play, coaching, action learning, case studies, visualisation, goal-setting and motivation exercises, along with more traditional teaching approaches. Together these have created a stimulating learning environment and a transformative learning experience for the students.

Feedback on the module has been extremely positive with a significant number of the students stating that it has equipped them with additional knowledge, skills and confidence to initiate and lead strategic developments within their organisations, and in other organisations in the future. Students also stated that the combined input from academic and practitioner significantly added value to the learning experience.   

 Following the success of the module, discussions are planned with the new professional institute for sport and physical activity to align the curriculum to the Institute’s recently launched professional development framework. 

The session will be delivered by Chris Cutforth, supported by additional contributions from Steve Wood, some of the students, and Val Stevenson, the course leader and Employability Lead for the Sport department, who will place the approach adopted for this module into a broader employability and professional development context.

Presentation:  A7 EN17 LTA conference presentation

A7 – (EN17, EN26, EN27, EN29) 11.00

2012 Embedding innovative practice: employers as partners in ensuring graduate employability

Tanya Miles-Berry and Nicola Cadet

Criminology has run two successful Employability Fairs, with a third planned for September. This has been assisted with embedding work related learning into our new Programme, and a number of initiatives are now being impacted as a direct result. 

This paper will outline the function of the Fair, how this has provided a number of different learning opportunities for our students to enhance experience and evidence graduate attributes through proactive and meaningful engagement with employers across the sector. 

We offer 2 modules, one at level 5 and one at level 6 where volunteering and employment roles attract credit through space being created for work related activities, complemented with face to face teaching around making links between practice, theory, academic knowledge and reflection to assess their learning and understanding of the volunteer opportunity they have undertaken. 

We also offer simulation modules which have been devised in collaboration with outside agencies, with the whole module, from design, to implementation and assessment being tailored to the graduate attributes identified by employers in our sector. 

The links with Practitioners through the Employability Fair proved useful, in opening opportunities for volunteering and placements in the first instance, with an additional event planned for the Practitioners themselves to identify further opportunities for our students.  

The paper will conclude that staff skills required to broker and foster such relationships are as critical as the skills being developed by students themselves.  Furthermore, the employer offer has to be explicit and transparent.  

It is our contention that ‘Employability Fairs’ can be emulated across the University and once these relationships have been established, further opportunities for collaboration will follow. These opportunities can be developed on a Departmental level and will not necessarily follow the model that we have outlined. 

A number of barriers to success have been established: 

Firstly, as a University wide Agenda, there is a danger that specific agencies may be over saturated with requests due to both duplication and a lack of awareness that an agency has already become involved. This in turn may endanger the initial relationship which has been established and lead to that relationship breaking down. 

Secondly, a number of organisations/individuals may become involved with a specific subject group – even though there is clear potential for cross-departmental or even cross-faculty involvement particularly across joint programmes. 

If we are to encourage true collaboration across both Department and Faculty, we need to ensure that a working policy is devised in order that the relationships which are cultivated on an individual basis are not jeopardised in our quest to secure work based learning opportunities for our students across the University. 

Furthermore, we will argue that fundamental to this policy is the need to ensure that a specific individual is identified within each Department, who will meet across Faculty to ensure that the policy can be developed and sustained.

Click to presentation:  Embedding innovative practice: employers as partners in ensuring graduate employability

A2 – (FU10) 11.00