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Dr Debbi Marais. Individualised Self-assessment to Enhance Employability in postgraduate students. Employability.

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Individualised Self-assessment to Enhance Employability in postgraduate students

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‘a set of achievements – skills, understandings and personal attributes - that make graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations, which benefits themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy’

link with retention
Link with Retention
  • How does enhancing employability improve retention?
    • For Postgraduate students - Non-progression main reason for discontinuing
    • Proven relationship between learning and employability
      • skills that facilitate learning such as being able to analyse data, solve complex problems and to communicate effectively, can also enhance an individual’s employability
    • Improving chances of progression = better student retention
why postgraduate
Why postgraduate?
  • PGT students - unique group
    • Short intensive period of study
    • Diverse graduate/professional backgrounds and nationalities
      • Previous experience and skill levels
      • Educational experiences
      • English language proficiency
  • Induction programmes
    • To ease the transition of international students into new learning environment
    • Not individualised or reflective in nature
  • Develop an online resource to extend employability provision for PGT students
    • self-awareness employability questionnaire on MyAberdeen
    • individualised feedback and links to supportive employability resources
1 skills audit
1. Skills Audit
  • Self-assessment of employability skills based on HEA employability profile for Health Studies & UoA Postgraduate Attributes
1 skills audit1
1. Skills Audit
  • Complete prior to self-assessment questionnaire
  • Existing non-credit bearing courses
    • Academic writing skills (AW1001)
      • Summarising a given text in ≤150 words within 1 hour
      • Different article extracts for different programmes
      • Assessed by Programme Coordinators using standardised rubric ito accuracy of summary AND language (grammar, punctuation and spelling)
    • Skills info (SK5003)
      • 50 Questions regarding basic IT skills required (e-mail, Excel, PowerPoint, Word, internet)
      • Yes (score 1), No (score 0) or Unsure (score ½)
  • Psychometric testing – Profiling for success
profiling for success
Profiling for Success
  • University Careers Centre acquired via the ‘Profiling for success’ website
  • Freely available to registered students
  • 4 identified for I-SEE
    • Abstract reasoning skills
    • Numerical reasoning skills
    • Verbal reasoning skills
    • Type Dynamics Indicator Form
  • ~10 min each
  • Academic writing skills
    • CAS uploaded in MyGrades with standardised feedback and signposting to either online support (CAS 6-8) or SLS language workshops (CAS <6)
  • IT Skills
    • Score (/50) in MyGrades automatically
    • Automated feedback of ‘correct’ if answered YES and signposting to specific online guides and page reference for specific section if NO/UNSURE
  • Psychometric testing
    • Score and individualised feedback emailed to student from website
1 skills audit2
1. Skills Audit
  • Self-assessment Questionnaire
    • Provide scores from various sources for:
      • Academic writing skills; IT Skills; Abstract, Numerical and Verbal reasoning skills and Personality Typing results
    • Self-rating of:
      • Communication skills/academic writing (essays, exams, oral and poster presentations, publications, referencing)
      • IT skills (basic word processing, TurnitInUK, track changes, data base search)
      • Group work
      • Personality typing (awareness of strengths and weaknesses)
      • Social/civic responsibilities/engagement
  • Self-assessment questionnaire
    • Automated and Individualised
      • Best responses as correct
    • Identifying development areas
    • Signposting for links to supportive employability resources
      • Online
      • Workshops/courses within the University
2 reflection
2. Reflection
  • Record progress in e-portfolio
    • Directions on how to create own e-portfolio provided
  • Reflect on progress using a checklist
    • After 6 months
    • Identify development areas
    • What has been done?
    • What do you plan to do?
3 articulation
3. Articulation
  • CV template
  • Supportive documentation with tips
  • Link to Career Services
  • Division of Applied Health Sciences PGT students
  • 2013/14 academic year
  • As a Compulsory non-credit bearing induction course

E-mail reminders

academic writing scores
Academic Writing scores
  • N=38
  • CAS Range - 6 to 20
  • Mean Score – 13.95
  • 5 Below CAS 9 [Signposted to Online Resources]

Not reported accurately in Skills Audit

-12 Unanswered and 7 Don’t know

rating of english language
Rating of English Language
  • Poor self-rating
    • Excellent [8-20]
    • Good [6-17]
    • Average [9-14]
    • Poor [20/unanswered]
it skills
IT skills
  • N = 37
  • Range 21 – 50 (/50)
  • Mean score – 43.38
  • 27 >40 score
  • 3 poor skills

Not reported accurately in Skills Audit

-9 Unanswered and 7 Don’t know

it self rating
IT Self-rating
  • Poor self-rating
    • Excellent [>48]
    • Good [19-50]
    • Average [32-43]
    • Poor [25]

4 unanswered Strengths and weaknesses

  • 3 Don’t know and 5 unanswered what friends and peers would describe
  • 6 unanswered Personality typing, 2 can’t find, 5 only 1 letter
  • Not accurate self-reporting / don’t remember
  • Poor self-rating
  • Not understanding feedback
what did the students think
What did the students think?
  • Do you think I-SEE had any impact?
  • What did you find most helpful?
    • [prompts for specific stages in the process – skills audit, reflection and articulation]
  • What did you find least helpful?
  • What do you think could help or be added?
  • How can we improve engagement?
  • Do you think improvements/development should be on your own initiative or followed up by programme coordinators?

30-60 min depending on time available to students

impact of i see
Impact of I-SEE
  • I already have a job and a career, so I did not see the use of it for me - it was a bit of a waste of time for me - but I can see it can be useful for others who have not had this at undergraduate level.
  • It was helpful to me but I wasn't really sure what it was for, perhaps if we knew earlier on, we would have taken part more.
  • Initial responses were fairly unsure to this question - a lot of shrugging and some head shaking
  • Students seemed divided according to their previous exposure or experience (local vs international students)
  • Not a total waste of time as it did reaffirm what I already knew, but perhaps more useful to others who have not done this before.
  • This is needed in the ‘real world’ so everyone should do it
comments on usefulness
Comments on usefulness
  • Responses differed between
    • International and Home students
    • English home language speakers or 2nd language
  • Practical problems with MyAberdeen
    • MyGrades, e-portfolios and submitting
  • Online support (guides) not helpful
  • Improve engagement
    • Explaining aim overall and for each assessment
    • Better timing of assessments (course workload)
  • Reflection least useful

... in the real world this is what you need to do (reflect) ...

  • Introductory session
    • Importance of I-SEE
    • Use of MyAberdeenespecially Mygrades, e-portfolios
  • Timing of assessments
    • Induction week
    • When needed
    • Workload of courses taken into consideration
    • Rather all do together at one time for checklist
  • Additional
    • Interview skills
    • Using social media to market yourself
    • Career information eg. Job adverts
  • Incorporated into Generic Skills Course
    • Some sessions less useful/superficial, some very useful but opinions differ between students – should be tailored to previous exposure and skill levels
    • Prevent overlap
    • Support in terms of workshops / presentations rather than online support
  • Provide an opt-out for students who do not want to complete
  • Own initiative or not?

... actually I suppose it is really our own responsibility ...

way forward
Way forward
  • Improvements as suggested by students where possible
  • Extend to College PGT programmes and PGR students
  • Staff engagement
  • HEA – Individual Teaching Development Grant
  • Support from colleagues in the DAHS & CLSM Graduate School
  • Research assistant – Ettienne Marais