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Employability: the next phase Mantz Yorke Lancaster University SHEEN Conference, Dundee 30 November 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "Employability: the next phase Mantz Yorke Lancaster University SHEEN Conference, Dundee 30 November 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 Employability: the next phase Mantz Yorke Lancaster University mantzyorke@mantzyorke.plus.com SHEEN Conference, Dundee 30 November 2007

2 Employability and stakeholders interests A personal issue which varies according to the persons background An institutional issue A political issue Governments human capital perspectives Employers needs for a highly skilled workforce HESA-published performance indicators: retention, completion, employment Widening participation agenda

3 Employability and stakeholders interests Are not perfectly aligned And hence there can be tension regarding emphases There is often a misapprehension that Employability = Employment Rate (If the terms are equivalent, then employability would vary according to the state of the labour market)

4 A quotation worth remembering … learning and skills are not just about work or economic goals. They are also about the pleasure of learning for its own sake, the dignity of self-improvement, the achievement of personal potential and fulfilment, and the creation of a better society. DfES (2003) Realising our Potential: Individuals, Employers, Nation [Cm 5810], para 4.1

5 Skills Personal Skills Graduate Skills Transferable Skills Enterprise Skills Business Skills Core Skills Key Skills Soft Skills Common Skills Work-related Skills Employability Skills Sector Skills

6 Skills Ad hoc Generally lack a theoretical base Risk over-specification (as NVQs) and box ticking Generic skills may be presented, in more coarsely grained form, as: - Graduate attributes (see Simon Barries recent work in Australia), or - as components of Graduateness (HEQC, 1997)

7 Graduateness HEQC (1997)

8 Lifelong learning Employability Workforce development Employer engagement Enterprise Entrepreneurship Work-based learning Work-related learning Skills

9 [A] set of achievements - skills, understandings and personal attributes - that make graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations … It owes a lot to the idea of Capability that was floated in the 1990s ESECTs definition of employability

10 Capable people have confidence in their ability to ~ take effective and appropriate action ~ explain what they are seeking to achieve ~ live and work effectively with others ~ continue to learn from their experience... Capable people not only know about their specialisms, they also have the confidence to apply their knowledge and skills within varied and changing situations and to continue to develop their specialist knowledge and skill... Based on Stephenson (1992) Capability

11 USEM attempts to capture the dynamic interaction implicit in both ESECTs definition of employability and Stephensons description of a capable person

12 The USEM account Developed in the context of employability, but relevant to capability and to learning in general U nderstanding S kilful practices (subject-specific and generic) E fficacy beliefs (and self-theories generally) M etacognition (including reflection)

13 Effectiveness in the world Subject under- standing Meta- cognition Skilful practices in context Personal qualities, including self-theories and efficacy beliefs E S U M

14 Is supported by both theory and empirical evidence Hence there is an academic justification for it Correlates with good learning Much that goes on in HE is tacitly consistent with USEM One task is to make the tacit more overt (PDP etc) There already exists a substantial base on which to build Is permissive rather than prescriptive, i.e. is flexible It can accommodate disciplinary differences It can accommodate differing kinds of student Is not a knee-jerk response to employer demand USEM

15 Draws attention to E and M to a greater extent than do ~ QAA subject benchmarks ~ Programme specifications Implicitly raises challenging questions about ~ The relation between module and programme ~ Assessment USEM

16 [The] mastery of requirements for effective functioning, in the varied circumstances of the real world, and in a range of contexts and organizations. It involves not only observable behaviour which can be measured, but also unobservable attributes including attitudes, values, judgemental ability and personal dispositions: that is, not only performance, but capability. Worth Butler et al (1994, pp.226-7) Professional competence is complex

17 Skills are not enough Graduates are expected to be able to deal with ~ routine problems – and, more importantly, ~ with the messy problems that the world throws up. The best result possible, not the best possible result The implication is that they must be able to integrate and apply understandings often collaboratively, and often with incomplete information

18 Higher education Subject Disciplines A B C D E The outside world A B C D E Mode 1 Mode 2 etc. After Gibbons et al (1994)

19 Some characteristics of a professional Operates autonomously (albeit within limits) Often works collaboratively Demonstrates trustworthiness Applies both academic and practical understandings … … but may not articulate all of how this is done Works integratively, sometimes on non-routine problems Applies metacognition (reflection; self-regulation; etc) Is committed to new learning, often via CPD Maintains standing as a professional

20 One medical study showed experts as performing less well than relative novices on a checklist for diagnosis Stages in professional development Dreyfus & Dreyfus (2005) 1. Novice Rule-following (one-by-one) 2. Advanced beginner 3. Competence 4. Proficiency 5. Expertise Professional judgement (integrative)

21 Rule A……… Rule B……… Rule C………… Novice ? Expert Rule A……… Rule B…… Rule C……… Integrated…. ?

22 Some issues in the (summative) assessment of performance in a. Academic contexts b. Workplace contexts

23 Educational objectives and their assessment Type of objective Problem SolutionAssessment InstructionalSpecifiedSpecifiedPrescriptive Problem-solvingSpecified Open Expressive Open OpenResponsive NB: Some alleged problem-solving is essentially puzzle-solving, where there is a right answer. This should be located in Row 1.

24 Problems set in academe are quite often characterised by being deliberately formulated being well-defined the availability of most if not all relevant information having a right answer… … and one method of reaching it being of limited intrinsic interest their detachment from ordinary experience Based on Hedlund and Sternberg (2000, p.137) Disciplines vary, of course, in the extent to which these apply

25 The taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessment (Anderson and Krathwohl, 2001, as viewed by Knight, 2007) The cognitive dimension 1 Remember 2 Understand 3 Apply 4 Analyze 5 Evaluate 6 Create The knowledge dimension Academic emphases? Factual (U) Conceptual (U) Procedural (U,S) Metacognitive (U,S,M)

26 Problems in the world of work are often characterised by happenstance messiness incompleteness of information multidisciplinarity engagement of others and possibly the pragmatic necessity to satisfice (i.e. to obtain a good enough rather than a perfect outcome) Success in some aspects of performance is mandatory (e.g. public health, safety)

27 The cognitive dimension 1 Remember 2 Understand 3 Apply 4 Analyze 5 Evaluate 6 Create The knowledge dimension The taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessment (Anderson and Krathwohl, 2001, as viewed by Knight, 2007) Employment emphases? Factual (U) Conceptual (U) Procedural (U,S) Metacognitive (U,S,M)

28 Wicked competences [A]chievements that cannot be neatly pre-specified, take time to develop and resist measurement-based approaches to assessment Knight (2007: 2) ESECTs definition implicitly acknowledges complex achievement

29 Many employability achievements are complex, and are best demonstrated in authentic or quasi-authentic settings Complexity (T)reating (required competences) as separate bundles of knowledge and skills for assessment purposes fails to recognize that complex professional actions require more than several different areas of knowledge and skills. They all have to be integrated together in larger, more complex chunks of behaviour. Eraut 2004: 804

30 Ensuring coverage of all employability aims, particularly in a modular scheme Some issues ~ Students selection of academic routes ~ Over-assessment of some aims (e.g. presentations) ~ Non-assessment (or student avoidance) of others Challenges - 1

31 Assessing employability achievements As separate skills ~ Standardisation? ~ Likely to run into the gravel-trap of excess detail (e.g. NVQ) Holistically ~ Context-related, individualised Judgement, rather than measurement Challenges - 2

32 USEM and assessment

33 Effectiveness in the world Subject under- standing Meta- cognition Skilful practices in context Personal qualities, including self-theories and efficacy beliefs E S U M Assessable, variably inferential Highly inferential

34 Awkwardness of fit With programme structures ~ Some employability achievements are slow-growing crops ~ They may take a programmes length (and more) to be developed, and it is inappropriate to assess them within individual modules ~ So how can they be assessed across the whole programme? With institutional assessment schemes and the honours degree classification Challenges - 3


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