Overview of presentation Introducing the Project Understandings of WRL Provision of WRL activities in GU Evidence for incorporating WRL from Year 1 Barriers and solutions to implementing WRL emerging from research Conclusions
The Project Create a strategic shift, through WRL, to enhance students long term employability 3 Partner HEIs: University of Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian University and University of St Andrews Initial pilots in 6 non-vocational subjects – Biosciences, Business & Management, History, Mathematics, Physics and Psychology New pilots in English Language, LBSS Enterprise and Creativity Module open to all students at St Andrews Research into how students, academics and employers view WRL and evaluations of pilots
Project Research Methodology Semi-structured interviews, focus groups and surveys to understand how students, academics and employers view WRL To date we have recorded the views of: –14 Senior academic staff –163 Lecturers –517 Students –39 Employers
What is WRL? Learning outcomes achieved through activities which are based on, or derive from, the context of work or the workplace (Hills et al, 2003:84). WRL promotes self-knowledge which is the key to success in graduates employment and wider lives (Moreland 2005: 17). Examples of activities: –Reflecting on Part-time work or Volunteering –Placements –Commercial Projects –Visits to Employers –Enterprise Activities
(Source : L. Naven, Project. June 2008) WORK-RELATED LEARNING SPECTRUM OF ACTIVITIES Work Placements Enterprise Activities Project work on behalf of employer Work Shadowing Talks delivered by employers Work- related case studies Work-related project with academic Field Trips / Visits to employers Industry skills workshops in Uni. Mentoring (Industry specialist) Designated skills modules Voluntary Work Learning from part- time work
Broadening understandings of Work-Related Learning WRL widely seen as placements only Range of possibilities exist, which may suit different circumstances – examples from Project: –History students involved in oral history projects (voluntary work in the summer holidays) –Biosciences students commercial projects (assessed as final year project) –Physics students visiting employers based at Glasgow science park (optional) WRL understood in its broadest sense can be introduced from First Year
At GU WRL activities mostly in Years 3 and 4
More should be done from 1 st Year Respondents Views: Students: There is less time for WRL activities such as volunteering or visiting employers in 3 rd and 4 th year Employers: Students need to be thinking all through their degree what evidence will I have to prove I have the skills employers want? Academics: WRL has to be implemented throughout the curriculum or else it will be seen as tokenistic
WRL from 1 st year: 1. Gives students time to prepare Too much competition in the labour market - degree is no longer enough – (SFC 2004) Students should be encouraged from 1 st year onwards to think about the usefulness of what they are learning for later job-hunting I dont think anyone would think that whoever they are can just sort of put their feet up and cross their arms and say look when I graduate its going to be absolutely fine. I think there needs to be something done early, as to what your options are (History Student).
WRL from 1 st year: 2.Raise Awareness among Non-Vocational students History and Physics students in particular were more resistant to thinking about employment – here to learn their subject: I certainly did History because I wanted to do History as opposed to learning how to be useful in a work environment… (History student). Some skills learned through experiencing WRL activities may deepen interest and appreciation for subject of study
WRL from 1 st year: 2.Raise Awareness among Non-Vocational students WRL helps students see that a wide range of career opportunities are open to them if they think creatively: I would have never, ever, ever, ever thought of myself as going into anything to do with accountancy. […] But there is a lot to be said for internships and how much they can affect your future choices once you have graduated, even if it is completely irrelevant to the topic of your studies (Physics student).
WRL from 1 st year: 3. Enhancing engagement Student-centred modules such as those that come under the umbrella of WRL are recommended by the QAA to improve engagement and retention (Moreland 2005) WRL can help students to recognise the wider applications of degree content –E.g. Reflecting on how psychological theories can explain the ways colleagues interact in a part-time job (currently a 2 nd year module at GCU).
Barriers and Solutions: 1. Coordination So a 1st Year student picking those 3 subjects potentially has 3 sets of people teaching them the 3 same sets of skills, which could just seem like overkill (GU Lecturer LBSS). Research conducted in Phase 1 of the project found that students and some staff preferred subject specific rather than generic WRL activities. Students get more practice and subject specific insights (Bloxham 2004)
Barriers and Solutions: 2. Student Participation Students in 3 rd and 4 th year report that it is only later that the value of these opportunities becomes apparent I think in future they should stress that this is just as much a core University subject as anything else, just so that people wont go thinking oh God, now I have got to do another thing on top of the real work … (Physics student). Activities may have to be compulsory to be effective but 1 st years may be more receptive to different learning and teaching approaches (Morley 2005).
Barriers and Solutions: 3. Assessment Students worry that if they are bad at WRL it will affect their result I want to get assessed on how good I am at History, I dont want to get assessed on how good I am at some job […] because I might be c**p at those relevant skills, and that might ruin my degree. (History student). Student suggestion: Solution could be pass/not yet pass model for levels 1 and 2
Worth the effort? Evaluations of pilot projects consistently show that students value the experiences they gain from WRL activities Academics involved are positive about the pilots and are happy to share their experiences with colleagues Employers are keen to be involved with such activities and to develop other links with HEIs
Conclusions Our research shows there is support for well designed and supported WRL activities from the 1 st year. Creative thinking is required to introduce a broad spectrum of WRL activities from 1 st Year Support for academics is necessary to facilitate different approaches to learning, teaching and assessment.