Tag Archives: skill development

2012 PPDP and career mentoring

Kent Roach and Ruth Holland

SHU is committed to making PPDP integral to the learning experience of all it’s students, and is developing a framework and toolkit for staff & students to bring this commitment to life.  Being both reflective & forward looking, the PPDP process has a clear relationship with the development of career management and employability skills in students. 

Any general provision for career development in students should include the opportunity to join a dynamic and empowering career mentoring scheme, giving access to committed & highly competent professionals in a range of vocational disciplines. 

It’s benefits to students include: access to specialist skills; advice; insider’s knowledge;  and greater confidence. 

The mentoring process itself involves: identifying learning needs; discussing them; setting goals; taking action; and reviewing & reflecting upon the experience. 

All of which resonate with the core elements of PPDP. 

This session further explores the links between PPDP and career mentoring,  considers it’s place a part of the employability toolkit for SHU students and looks at how staff can be effective ‘enablers’.

D3 – (FU53) 15.30

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 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 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 iPhone feedback to develop student employability in sandwich engineering degrees

Anne Nortcliffe

Work based and placement learning opportunities have been recognised as a critical importance for future graduate employment, as a third of graduate posts are filled with students who have already worked for the organization, Highfliers (2011).    Placements have been a feature of the curriculum design for engineering courses for a number of Higher Education institutions since the 1960s, (Osbourne-Moss, 1968;Silver, 2007) .   However, the number of students undertaking placements are declining, Wilson (2012).  Equally modern recruitment processes require students to provide evidence of key competencies, though students do successfully develop these key competencies whilst on placement, Hall et al (2009), however in our experience at Sheffield Hallam University in the placement team; large employers are increasingly using techniques similar or the same as their graduate recruitment processes to filter the applications.    The employers require the engineering students to demonstrate in their placement applications a level of competency in key technical and employability skills.  Therefore any student employability development and feedback in engineering courses needs to provide appropriate support that continues to empower students to self identify, reflect, and articulate their relevant technical and employability skills for placement and graduate roles.   Is audio feedback via iPhone the solution to the problem and if yes, how effective is such approach?   What is the longitudinal effect of the feedback?  Do students continue to use the feedback in their final year?  This paper will present an example of an embedding iPhone feedback into computing and engineering courses and will provide critical analysis of the evidence from the qualitative and quantitive studies of the student reflections as to their perceptions of the impact of the audio feedback upon their employability and whether it has had a positive contributing factor in assisting them to secure a placement/graduate opportunity.

B8 – (FU09, EN25) 11.50

2012 History in practice: embedding employability in the humanities curriculum

Alison Twells

SHU’s commitment to providing work-related learning for all students has posed particular challenges for some non-vocational subjects, such as the Humanities. This paper explores the changing fortunes of the external work-related project in History, once part of a Level 6 Community History module which attracted a small but dedicated student following, and which has now been re-developed to deliver employability at Level 5 of the History programme. The paper will consider discipline-specific ways of developing employability and will review student feedback on the value of such modules, particularly in terms of developing skills and confidence, inspiring ideas for future fields of employment, and promoting a different sort of pride in and ownership of their work.

Presentation:  C4 FU06 History of Practice LTA ppt

C4 – (FU06, FU08, FU30, FU32) 14.20

2012 Teaching employability: reflection and change

David Egan, John Perry and Jane Tattersall

The Starting Point: Review of EFHTM ( Events ,Food, Hospitality, Tourism Management)  programme – part of review focus groups with employers to identify strengths & weaknesses. This identified gaps in employability skills particularly in soft employability skills.

Decision to review the teaching of and which employability skills should be delivered within the EFHTM program. 

Stage1: Academic with an interest in employability skills asked to review the literature and develop a framework for identifying which skills and where they should be developed. This framework we refer to as the employability matrix. Key skill gaps numeracy, IT and soft skills e.g. telephone communication

Stage2: Agreement of key elements of employability development: adoption of   Pool & Sewell (2007) The Key of Employability’ as the pedagogic philosophical approach to the development of employability skills within the programme, the detail of skills to be based on the employability matrix; skills to be developmental over the 3 or 4 years of the degree, modules to include an employability statements to be built in module assessments.

Stage3: Application to level 4, review &  replacement of   what was a mixed academic & employability skills module to one with a much stronger focus on employability skills Developing Your Management Skills (DMS) , with introduction of skill, then passed onto another module for assessment, the assessment feedback then being brought back into DMS for a reflective assessment. Other modules e.g. finance are reviewing and changing their content to reflect the new employment priorities. 

In this paper we would like to report on progress and some of the challenges faced and overcome in taking employability to the next level from theme to an integral part of the learning experience. We are currently implementing stage 3 . The authors have involved in the teaching of employability skills from several different perspectives both within and outside Higher Education.

A4 (FU05, FU37) 11.00

2012 What alternatives are available when placement opportunities are limited?

Chris Hill


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