Tag Archives: placement

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

Listen to the presentation (opens in new window)

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.

284 – Exploring ways of using formative feedback to improve student engagement with simulation modules – Vicky Thirlaway, Amy Musgrove

It is now well established that courses should seek to use Assessment for Learning, rather than Assessment of Learning, and that the form of assessment can have a significant impact on the student experience (the “backwash” effect described by Biggs (1996)). A key component of any assessment for learning strategy is to include authentic assessment tasks which the students can see have a relationship to the “real world” (McDowell, 2012; Gikandi et al., 2011). Fostering student engagement with a “make believe” scenario is a challenge: the activities must be perceived to be “credible” if students are going to engage with them.

Simulation can be an effective way of allowing students to contextualise their learning and develop the skills they will need to turn theory into practice. It can, therefore, have a role to play in developing employability skills.

Research demonstrates that formative assessment and feedback can significantly improve student performance (Black and Wiliam, 1998) and arguably, this is even more crucial when the assessment measures skills of application that the student may not have had to demonstrate in their previous educational experiences (Ramaprasad, 1983; Sadler, 1989 cited in Jordan, 2012).  Tutors often feel that students fail to engage with formative assessment, and take little notice of feedback provided (Orsmond et al., 2013).

This presentation will argue that cohorts of students are primarily strategic learners, and therefore are reluctant to engage with learning activities that do not directly feed into assessment, even where they acknowledge the validity of the exercise (Coles, 2009). It will be suggested that “formative” assessment should be compulsory and, therefore, must be part of the totality of summative assessment on the module. We have some experience of embedding compulsory formative assessment and feedback within a simulation exercise. The presentation will evaluate the successes and shortcomings of our experience, and consider alternative ways of providing formative feedback within the simulation whilst maintaining the authenticity of the task and the credibility of the summative assessment.

References

Biggs JB (1996) “Assessing learning quality: Reconciling institutional, staff and educational demands” Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 21: 5–16.

Black, P and Wiliam, D (1998) “Assessment and classroom learning” Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice” 5(1): 7-73

Cauley, K, M and McMillan, J. H (2010) “Formative Assessment Techniques to support student motivation and achievement” The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 83:1, 1-6

Carless, D, D. Salter, M, Yang, and J. Lam. (2011) “Developing sustainable feedback practices” Studies in Higher Education 36, no. 4: 395–407.

Clark, I (2008) “Assessment is for Learning: Formative Assessment and Positive Learning Interactions” Florida Journal of Educational Adminsitration & Policy 2(1): 1-15

Clarke, I (2012) “Formative Assessment: Assessment is for self-regulated learning” Educ Psychol Rev, 24, 205-249

Coles, C (2009) “The Role of New Technology in Improving Engagement among Law Students in Higher Education”, Journal of Information, Law & Technology (JILT), 3, <http://go.warwick.ac.uk/jilt/2009_3/coles>

Duncan, N. (2007) “Feedforward’: Improving students’ use of tutors’ comments.” Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 32, no. 3: 271–83.

Gikandi, J. W, Morrow, D and Davis, N. E (2011) “Online formative assessment in higher education: A review of the literature” Computers and Education, 57, 2333-2351

Handley, K, Price, M and Millar, J (2011) “Beyond ‘doing time’: Investigating the concept of student engagement with feedback” Oxford Review of Education, vol37, No.4, Aug 2011, 543-560

Jordan, S (2012) “Student engagement with assessment and feedback: Some lessons from short-answer free-text e-assessment questions” Computers and Education, 818-834

Mann, S.J. (2001) “Alternative perspectives on the student experience: alienation and engagement” Studies in Higher Education, 26(1): 7-19

McDowell, L. ‘Assessment for Learning’ in L. Clouder & Broughan (eds) (2012) “Improving Student Engagement and Development Through Assessment” London: Taylor & Francis

Orsmond, P, Maw, S, Park, S, Gomez, S & Crook, A. (2013): Moving feedback forward: theory to practice, Assessment & Evaluation in HigherEducation, 38:2, 240-252

Parkin, H. J, Hepplestone, S, Holden, G Irwin, B and Thorpe, L (2012) “A role for technology in enhancing students’ engagement with feedback” Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, Vo.37, No.8, Dec 2012, 963-973

Price, M, Handley, K and Millar, J (2011) “Feedback: Focusing attention on engagement.” Studies in Higher Education, Vol.36, No.8, Dec 2011, 879-896

Schartel, S. A (2012) “Giving Feedback: An integral part of education” Best Practice and Clinical Anaesthesiology, 26, 77-87

Wingate, U (2010) “The impact of formative feedback on the development of academic writing” Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, vol.35, No.5, Aug 2010, 519-533

284 Final power point SHU conference

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 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

2012 What alternatives are available when placement opportunities are limited?

Chris Hill

CANCELLED

Facing a reduction in opportunities for direct placement experience, it is difficult to maintain a dissemination of that experience throughout Built Environment undergraduate cohorts. However, using student presentations of the learning outcomes individually identified with their experience can allow all students to gain a wide variety of current practices in their chosen field. The expectations of students on vocational courses includes a thorough preparedness to enter the ‘world of work’, the correlation with this from employers expectations brings employability to the centre of the curriculum. The divide between notional academic and work related realms is seen to be artificial: the academic work reflects the workplace; the workplace develops the academic disciplines. The opportunity to experience the variety of the workplace, from the professional practice in London to the Local Authority in Derbyshire, the subcontractor in Rotherham to the Olympics village project, is hugely valuable to the student. Few individuals, beyond the tutor, can hope to visit all these first hand, but by allowing the whole cohort to witness the presentations made by returning students, the whole cohort can be exposed to the experience, described from a first hand and student perspective. The variety of experiences presented helps all students, those who have gained experience and those who have not had that opportunity. This benefit is seen in development of interpersonal skills such as reflection and communication. 

Experience of undergraduate Built Environment disciplines in combining explicit links between learning outcomes and professional body requirements has maintained an academic and professional standard for this practice. Cumulative academic conference publication supports the scholarly nature of this work.

C1 – (EX04, EX13, EX15, EX18) 14.20