Tag Archives: skills

Engaging practice-based learners

Aileen Watson, Andrew Fowler & Jacky Burrows

Parallel session 2, Short paper 2.8

Short Abstract
This session will consider the design and delivery of an academic module studied by volunteers working for Yorkshire and Humberside Circles of Support and Accountability. Our aim is to explore the use of blended learning in engaging practice-based students utilising our own experience and student feedback.

Back to event programme

Detailed Outline
This paper will explore the challenges of engaging practice-based learners in a blended learning experience, with specific reference to a joint project between Sheffield Hallam’s Department of Law and Criminology and Yorkshire and Humberside Circles of Support and Accountability (YHCOSA). This project involved a group of YHCOSA volunteers engaging in a standalone academic module entitled ‘Working with Sex Offenders’, which aimed to improve their volunteering through integrating theory and practice. Students completed the course by engaging in one face to face session and twelve online lectures delivered by Sheffield Hallam, and four face to face sessions delivered by YHCOSA. The project had a number of specific challenges including the wide geographic distribution of students, the range of their previous academic experience, and the challenging nature of the subject material and volunteers’ specific roles; however the paper will also address broader issues relevant to blended learning including establishing course identity, sustaining motivation, and maximising potential. It will therefore consider the specific learning needs of practice-based adult learners and maximising the effectiveness of the blended/hybrid of model of face to face teaching and technology-facilitated learning for them, as well as ways of increasing motivation and student satisfaction such as formal and informal reward and recognition and ensuring adequate support (see for example, Ausburn, 2011).

The blended learning approach can be regarded as both a practical solution to the learning needs of geographically diverse, practice-based learners and a theoretically sound mode of engaging adult learners, especially those learning for practical application. The authors take the view that the project’s blended learning approach fits well with Knowles’ model of androgogy (see for example Atherton, 2013) and in particular allows students to learn in a constructivist manner, thus facilitating deep learning (e.g. Sharpe, Benfield, Roberts, and Francis, 2006). The paper will therefore consider blended-learning through those lenses.
The paper will conclude with ideas for future directions including the role of evaluation for transformative practice and the increasing focus on blended learning as part of the wider agenda of ‘flexible learning’ (HEA, 2015)
References
ATHERTON, J. S. (2013). Learning and Teaching; Knowles’ andragogy: an angle on adult learning [onlline] Last updates 10 February 2013 http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/knowlesa.htm
AUSBURN, L. J. (2011). Course design elements most valued by adult learners in blended online education environments: an American perspective. Educational Media International, 41, 327-337
HEA (2015). Flexible Learning [online]. https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/workstreams-research/themes/flexible-learning
SHARPE, R. BENFIELD,G,. ROBERTS, G., and FRANCIS, R.(2006). The undergraduate experience of blended e-learning: a review of UK literature and practice.

300 – A Scaffolded Approach to Developing Professional Communication and Digital Skills – Sue Beckingham

The professional skills module for first year Computing students has followed a traditional approach not unlike many other subjects. However in one course a module reviewed the syllabus to integrate new digital skills to complement the programme. Students have undertaken a variety of digital communication tasks which they have reflected upon within their digital portfolio in the form of a blog. They have also worked in groups and held online meetings using Skype or Google+ hangouts, recording their meetings using a shared Google doc. A scaffolded approach using social media to develop communication skills has allowed students to reflect on existing skills and the development of new. Within their personal reflective blog the students embedded a digital ‘About Me’ video along with screencasts and screenshots to evidence their online group work. Not only has this helped them to develop new digital skills, they have been able to articulate how these may be of use in the workplace. The articulation of how professional skills can be applied and the confidence to do so is an important and vital aspect of their development.

300 A Scaffolded Approach to Developing Professional Communication and Digital Skills

293 – Teaching reflection isn’t a science; is it an art? – Richard McCarter, Emma Heron

The teaching and learning of reflection is not a science and the term ‘critical reflection’ is often framed and conceived differently by many tutors and students especially those in a non-vocational setting. This paper explores possible teaching approaches and strategies towards student’s own PPDP and draws on interviews with staff and 2nd year students in the social sciences. Even when the opportunity to encourage students to examine and write critically about their own professional, academic and personal development, tutors are themselves not always active enquirers and may feel challenged by their own role as facilitators.  Equally students feel threatened, distanced or alienated from the reflective process.

The outcomes of our study indicate that students liked the skills element of the module, but declared that they waffled through some areas of an assessed piece of writing when asked to reflect. The study reveals that staff differed in expectations of what represents reflection. A significant outcome of the study suggested that tutors were not reflective practitioners and they lacked a sense of what the reflective process should contain and what or how to promote in the student, critical enquiry and self-reflection.

Larrivee (2000) refers to teachers having an awareness and criticality of their practice and points to the notion of the critically reflective teacher and the ability to have a deep examination of values on action; their own interrogation of practice through critical checks and multiple lenses. Can we teach students reflection without such awareness ourselves? No; in order to teach PPDP effectively, the teacher needs to be (or become) a reflective practitioner.  The paper discusses the tutor’s support role and reviews strategies and approaches to help staff support students undertake a journey of self-discovery and looks at the kind of practitioner that we might become.

292 – Using independent research to enhance employability in first year History students – Chris Corker, Sarah Holland

Strand: Course identity

Abstract: This paper will explore the redevelopment and initial delivery of the redesigned module Making History 2, a core module for first year History students. The module was redesigned with three objectives in mind: emphasise the skills development involved through doing a history degree to students in their first year; enable students to engage with libraries and sources outside of the University, including those at local archives for a piece of independent research; and guide the students in understanding the relationship between academic and public history. To achieve this, students would be expected to work in small groups to undertake a small research project on any aspect of Sheffield history they were interested in between 1750 and 1950. Emphasis was placed on originality and areas of Sheffield’s history which were under-researched. From their research the students would have to produce an essay-style write up of their project individually, and an un-assessed poster for a history exhibition as a group. The poster exhibition would be open to the public, with posters being judged as part of a competition by a local historian. Their assessment also included a reflective element in which the students were encouraged to evaluate their performance as part of a group, and to explore their skills development through doing the project. The skills primarily developed from undertaking their projects include, but is not limited to: team work; autonomy; research skills; writing skills; and planning and organisation. Students would also write a short essay critically evaluating different approaches to public history. The paper will highlight the approach taken to delivering the module, and be supplemented by data gathered during the course of its delivery.

While the approach outlined is tailored for delivery with History students, it is anticipated that attendees will be able to take away ideas on how to emphasize the skills developed through doing a degree with first year students. The paper will highlight one possible approach to introducing employability to students, and offers a means of helping students develop their skills and to seek resources outside of the University while undertaking their studies.

References:

Fazey, D. M. A., and Fazey, J. A., The Potential for Autonomy in Learning: Perceptions of competence, motivation and locus of control in first-year undergraduate students, Studies in Higher Education, 2001, 26:3, 345-361

Pegg, A., Waldock, J., Hendy-Isaac, S., and Lawton, R., Pedagogy For Employability, Higher Education Academy, 2012.

‘Principles and Practice of Learner Autonomy’ in Moore, I., Elving-Hwang, J., Garnett, K., and Corker, C., CPLA Case Studies Volume 1, Centre For Promoting Learner Autonomy, 2010.

surveyed at the start of the module and will be surveyed at the close of the module, assessing their skills development and perspectives on employability.

292 SHU L&T Conference June 2013

283 – Student partnerships and employability: case study of the Course Design Consultancy @ SHU – Manny Madriaga, Luci Cockayne, Andrew Squire, Lizzie Webster, Barbara Gonzalez Jaspe, Neil Morris & Chris Corker

This interactive workshop raises questions about the extent of our partnerships with students in their learning.  How are we ensuring that students are reflecting upon their own professional development in volunteering and/or work-based learning activities?   How transparent are we making the skills and attributes students are developing while working in partnership with academic staff? In pondering these questions, this workshop will include a show-and-share of how students and staff within the institution collaborated on a project to enhance student engagement in the curriculum design process this year.  This institutional initiative, Course Design Consultancy, was supported by the Higher Education Academy’s Students as Partners change programme, which is run in partnership with Birmingham City University.  This presentation highlights how both Venture Matrix™ students and Faculty Student Representatives from the Sheffield Business School were recruited to become course design consultants (CDCs).  It will describe the role of CDCs from students who have taken on this role.  The CDCs will share their experience of working with course leaders and course planning teams to first identify areas of improvement to inform course (re)development.  In addition, the CDCs will share their experience of working alongside their student peers and prepping, organising and running of ‘solution-based’ workshops to develop ideas for course improvement.  CDCs will discuss the work involved, particularly in producing CDC Reports which include recommendations based on student ideas taken from workshops.

247 – Open Badges: Supporting Learning and Employability by Recognising Skills Development – Ian Glover

Open Badges were developed in 2010 by the Mozilla Foundation, with support from Peer2Peer University and the MacArthur Foundation. They are designed to be a method of validating and certifying knowledge and experience in a less formal manner than degree certificates and grade transcripts, and have been identified as having a high potential impact on education, likely to be felt within the next 2-5 years (Open University, 2012, p. 16-18). Additionally, they have the potential to be a motivational tool to encourage students to take control of their studies and help emphasise the need for extra-curricular experience and achievement. In this way, Open Badges can support employability strategies by providing students with clear targets that are relevant to industry.

Open Badges support linking to evidence to justify their award, meaning that they can aid students in developing portfolios of work and, by making the badges publically viewable, provide evidence of their work to prospective employers. Another major benefit of Open Badges is that they help expose the skills and competencies students have acquired through their studies. Students often overlook this aspect of Higher Education because the focus is on grades, yet it is the underlying skills that are often most valued by employers (McDowell, 2013).

This paper discusses the implications of Open Badge adoption on Higher Education, highlight examples of their use, and stimulate consideration of the potential of this recent innovation. Several existing online systems are available, and these are discussed along with some suggestions on possible uses for Open Badges.

References

McDowell, L. M. (2013). Skills and Labour market change. White Paper. http://www.nelep.co.uk/media/2624/linda-mcdowell-skills.pdf [accessed 04 May 2013].

Open University. (2012). Innovating Pedagogy 2012. White Paper. http://www.open.ac.uk/personalpages/mike.sharples/Reports/Innovating_Pedagogy_report_July_2012.pdf

[accessed 04 May 2013].

Click to view presentation:  247 Open Badges – SHULT13

242 – Practical Strategies for Embedding Employability in the Curriculum – Jeff Waldock

For a variety of reasons, degree programmes are increasingly expected to better prepare graduates for the workplace.  Appropriate mechanisms for achieving this will differ from department to department and from discipline to discipline – but some generally successful principles can be described.  Employability skills comprise practical job seeking (i.e. Career Management) skills, that can be developed through short co- or extra-curricular sessions, and skills such as communication and team working that require longer term development.  Both are important, however this presentation will concentrate on the latter. Successful strategies include the use of work experience (particularly a full-year placement).  Skills in self-awareness are also important – the ability to recognise your own strengths, provide evidence to support this and develop strategies for improvement has a huge impact on gaining employment.  A process of reflection and action planning embedded within the curriculum will help develop these skills.  In addition, appropriate learning, teaching and assessment strategies can enable employability to take place alongside subject skill development.  Courses designed in this way will enable students to develop employability skills – and to recognise that they are doing so – without loss of content. This workshop will discuss the above issues and explore successful strategies for incorporating employability development into your curriculum.  The session will be interactive, and the intention is that you should come away with some specific actions to take to helpd evelop your own practice in this area.  I will be using the ‘Socrative’ classroom response tool to focus discussion and to collate participants’ work.  You can download the app for smartphones and tablet PCs, so come prepared!  (Search the App Store for ‘Socrative Student’)

Click to view presentation:  242 SHU_LTA_19June13_Employability

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 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