Dr Stuart Durkin, School of Social Science and Dr Joy Perkins, Centre for Academic Development explain how they created a course to enhance students’ employability. By taking this course, the students engage in an authentic learning experience, undertake critical reflection and develop their employability capabilities.

Problem

Students often find it a real challenge to understand the transferability of their academic experiences and how to present these experiences to employers. In particular, students overlook skills such a project management, creative thinking and collaborative working, and how these skills can be applied in a variety of non-academic contexts.

Solution

To help support students to transfer their capabilities and skills to a new or different context the course, Working Together: Employability for Arts & Social Sciences was established. This third year course provides the opportunity for students to complete a group, work-based project provided by a local business or charity, and to reflect on their project experiences via a summative reflective report.

The underlying rationale for the individual reflective report is to support learners to:

  • Critically analyse their work-based project learning experiences.
  • Explore their skills and Aberdeen Graduate Attribute development.
  • Capture their next career planning steps and future learning goals.

The 3,000 word, assessment captures students’ work-based project activity, analysis and reflection. A series of reflective prompts help to guide students through this process. The assessment is designed to help students to become more proactive, independent and critical learners.

Evaluation

Exploiting experiences that encourage students to ‘learn how to learn’, evaluate and reflect on their skills development and the applications in the workplace are captured in this comment by the External Examiner:

“The course covers a range of employability skills and issues in a comprehensive manner within a ‘live brief’ context which makes it current and relevant. Testing group reporting skills is an innovative aspect of the course and a useful skill in the workplace.”

Impact

Personal benefits and impact regarding the reflective assessment are illustrated through SCEF feedback:

“Its wide array of assessments and learning skills. These skills are very helpful once we are into professional life.”

To help enhance students’ learning in the School of Engineering, the new Engineering Work Experience course has adapted this reflective, evidence-based assessment approach.