Tag Archives: placements

Embedding skills and employability: a programme based approach

Tanya Miles-Berry, Nichola Cadet & Shawna McCoy
@thrmb / @nicholacadet

Parallel session 1, Short Paper 1.2

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Short Abstract
Criminology students are supported to prepare for the jobs market both inter and extra-curricularly by integrating study skills over each academic year; scaffolding to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, and utilising complex strategies to develop their knowledge, understanding and skills as they progress.
Work related learning was similarly embedded; on an extra-curricular basis from year 1, and within the curriculum through years 2 and 3.

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Detailed Outline
In order that students can gain the maximum benefit from their degree at SHU, we embedded a number of initiatives to support them during their study, and prepare them for the jobs market.

As well as integrating study skills more completely within their degree over each academic year, we also developed a scaffolding approach to ensure that once foundational knowledge is established a focus on teaching critical reflection as a key skill (Gibbs, 2013) encourages them to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses in relation to work related learning opportunities outlined below. Furthermore, this focus on ‘self’ (Hinchcliffe & Jolly, 2011) encouraged students to use more complex strategies to develop their knowledge, understanding and skills as they progress, whilst maintaining a focus on their future career aspirations (CSAP, 2009; McKinnon & McCrae, 2012).

This structured approach was also used to embed work related learning, with the aim that students would engage with work experience opportunities on an extra-curricular basis from year 1, and then use those opportunities within the curriculum through years 2 and 3. This holistic approach to work related learning opportunities encompasses a range of modules, from actual placements and ‘service learning’ (Deeley, 2010; Davies et al, 2014), to simulation, in an attempt to show the realities of related professions (Rockell, 2009) and extra-curricular opportunities offered through our annual Volunteer Fair (Stevenson & Clegg, 2011).

This session will look more closely at what was developed, how these developments work in practice, and changes that are in the process of being made as a result of our current revalidation process.

In addition, feedback from an independent evaluation of the simulation module at level 6 will be included, along with feedback from various employers and students involved in some of our initiatives, in order to evidence their perceptions and reflections.

Davis, J, Cronley C, Madden E.E & Kim Y.K (2014) ‘Service-learning Use in Criminal Justice Education’. Journal of Criminal Justice Education 25: 2 157-174
Deeley S.J (2010) ‘Service-learning: Thinking outside the box’. Active Learning in Higher Education 11 (1): 43-53
Gibbs G (2013) ‘Reflections on the changing nature of educational development’. International Journal for Academic Development 18; 1 4 – 14
Hinchcliffe G.W & Jolly A (2011) ‘Graduate identity and employability’ British Educational Research Journal 37 (4) 563-584
McKinnon S & McCrae J (2012) ‘Closing the gap; preparing computing students for employment through embedding work-related learning in the taught curriculum’. Industry and Higher education 26 (4) 317 – 322
Rockell B.A (2009) ‘Challenging What they All Know: Integrating the Real/Reel World into Criminal Justice Pedagogy’. Journal of Criminal Justice Education 20 (1) 75-92
Stevenson J & Clegg S (2011) ‘Possible selves: students orientating themselves towards the future through extracurricular activity’. British Educational Research Journal 37 (2) 231-246

258 – Experience and expectations of Placements and Graduate Roles at Sheffield Hallam University – Arpit Sheth, Simona Pantiru, Simon Kilpatrick, Charmaine Myers

Strand: Supporting students

Presenter: (including contact details)

Arpit Sheth (Arpit.Sheth@shu.ac.uk)

Simona Pantiru (b0041844@my.shu.ac.uk)

Simon Kilpatrick (S.Kilpatrick@shu.ac.uk)

Charmaine Myers (sbscem@exchange.shu.ac.uk)

Anticipated outcomes: Explore the experiences of placement students/graduate interns at SHU and enhance this experience by future improvements.

Session Abstract:

It has become wide fact that the completion of a work placement as part of an undergraduate degree is of positive benefit both to graduates and employers, particularly in an era that stresses the economic contribution of UK higher education through developing graduate employability (Wilton, 2012). This benefit is twofold: first, work placements positively contribute to the development of generic employability skills; and second, placements provide a ‘head start’ for graduates at the outset of their careers.

Currently, there are approximate 50 student placement/graduate interns employed at SHU. Each student/graduate works under a specific line manager in their current role. Line managers play a vital role in supporting these students/graduates. Interviewing the line managers will inform the kind of support offered to students/graduate. Although, it is acknowledged that these students/graduates are employed like any other member of staff to perform a role, it must also be recognised that this category of employee is specifically engaged in developing their future employability. Therefore, it is also important to ascertain how these students/graduates perceive their development in their current role.

Since an in-depth perspective about the experience of students/graduates and the support they receive from line managers is essential, a qualitative approach seems to be valuable and beneficial (Creswell, 2007). Semi-structured interviews will be conducted to obtain perception of placement students/graduate interns and their line managers in collaboration with HR Department at SHU. After data collection, data will be analysed using thematic analysis. Codes will be formulated and grouped and sub-grouped to obtain themes.

The results of this research will be presented at the conference highlighting main findings of this project. Additionally, by obtaining information that might contribute towards enhancing this experience and supporting line managers to support these employees, it may facilitate greater use of SHU as an employer in providing these types of opportunity in order to promote (and potentially increase) recruitment of these posts.


Creswell, John W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions. Thousand Oaks, Calif, SAGE.

Wilton N., (2012): The impact of work placements on skills development and career outcomes for business and management graduates, Studies in Higher Education, 37 (5), 603-620

258 graduate interns

2012 Supporting students with appropriate placement patterns

Tony Cowell and Sue Cordell

This Thunderstorm session will focus on a discussion comparing and contrasting the placement patterns adopted in different areas of teacher education and the potential impact this has on student learning and professional development.

The presenters will outline the different patterns used in the secondary (11-19) and post compulsory (16+) areas of teacher education at SHU. They will consider the impact these patterns have on potential ‘Futures’ preparing students for an ever changing work environment. The many changes in the sector such as a move to school based teacher education,  academies and their impact on the curriculum, and changes in the post 16 landscape have led to an ever increasing divergence in potential employer expectation and context, yet this can be juxtaposed against a potential convergence of the new 14-19 opportunities in education with developments like the University Technical Colleges, where post compulsory and secondary education will become blurred. Where do our students fit into this landscape? 

Clearly this issue is not just one limited to teacher education. In many areas of the university students are involved in placements with partners who have differing understandings of the nature of the academic, professional and vocational relationships such courses must balance. We would like to invite to the discussion anyone involved in placing students in work related contexts and will explore positives and negatives of the models raised. We will consider a range of issues such as; How do we develop placement patterns to give equity of opportunity for employability? Which placement patterns provide ‘Engagement’ for our students? Which placement patterns allow a development of understanding enabling students to link their learning at university to that on placement? The session is a potential start point for possible research in the future.

C4 – (FU32, FU06, FU08, FU30) 14.20