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Preparing Real Estate Students for the Workplace. Rachel Williams Northumbria University. Introduction. Background to the project Overview of the assessment Reflections and looking forward. Employability.

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preparing real estate students for the workplace

Preparing Real Estate Students for the Workplace

Rachel Williams

Northumbria University

  • Background to the project
  • Overview of the assessment
  • Reflections and looking forward
  • Employers often criticise the standard of new graduates, claiming that they are ‘without enough business sense, understanding of the real world and readiness for work (Knight and Yorke, 2004 p. 11).
  • There is resistance from some academics who feel that the inclusion of a more skills based agenda in higher education is a distraction from the study of the disciplines and pursuit of knowledge (Barnett, 1994; Honeybone, 2002, Teichler, 2002 cited in Knight and Yorke, 2004).
defining employability
Defining Employability
  • ESECT (Yorke, 2006)A set of achievements – skills, understandings and personal attributes – that makes graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful...
  • Harvey (2003)

...developing critical, reflective abilities, with a view to empowering and enhancing the learner


Graduate attributes and employability skills taken from Pegg et al’s (2012) summary of CBI’s ‘Working towards your future’ Report (2011)

  • Business and customer awareness – need to provide customer /client satisfaction
  • Problem solving – analysing facts and situations and applying creative thinking to develop appropriate solutions
  • Communication and literacy – application of literacy and oral literacy – including listening and questioning
  • Numeracy
  • IT skills
  • Positive attitude – ‘can-do’ approach, drive to make things happen
employability real estate
Employability: Real Estate

Poon and Hoxley(2011) Real Estate education; an investigation of multiple stakeholders.

  • According to the survey of real estate employers, from an employers’ perspective the most important skill that real estate graduates should possess is effective oral communication.
  • In the same survey client care was identified as one of the top five areas of knowledge which graduates should have acquired.
  • In the employers’ ranking of desirable graduate attributes interpersonal skills were ranked the third most important out of twenty one attributes.
employability real estate1
Employability: Real Estate
  • The graduate survey revealed that in relation to communication, client care and interpersonal skills there was a gap between what employers believe graduates to require and what graduates felt they had acquired at university
  • There was a broad consensus amongst the academic interviewees that ‘soft skills’ including communication have a significant impact on a student’s employability however, they were not convinced that these skills should be taught intensively by universities.
  • RICS (no date)

Curriculumof accredited degrees “should be highly relevant to professional practice. The overall programme should prepare graduates for the profession”.

employability strategies
Employability: Strategies
  • The vast majority of studies suggest that active learning by doing is what works in relation to many employability skills, particularly for communication, working with others, time and personal management and problem solving. Learners must also take responsibility and reflect on their own development and progress. UKCES (2008 p131)
  • Good learning, teaching and assessment projects will be developing practices that are also likely to help students make good, well-founded claims to employability

(Knight et al 2003, p3)

assessment at undergraduate level
Assessment at Undergraduate level
  • Client meeting role plays
  • Student is given a telephone phone message providing brief details of a problem
  • Student researches the legal issues and prepares for the meeting
  • At the meeting the client is played by another student or member of staff
assessment at undergraduate level1
Assessment at Undergraduate Level
  • Two formative assessments – students are in groups of three (advisor, client and observer)
  • Peer and tutor feedback forms as well as a self evaluation sheet which includes PDP
  • Summative assessment – client played by a tutor whilst another tutor observes and writes feedback
assessment at postgraduate level
Assessment at Postgraduate Level
  • On Masters programme students submit a joint law and valuation client report
  • After teaching team have reviewed the report the student is invited to a client meeting to answer questions from the client about the report
  • Formative feedback is given in relation to practice role plays in seminars
student experience
Student Experience
  • Generally the initial reaction when I gave them an overview of the assessment was fear
  • Formative sessions – positive energy, eagerness to learn, supportive of others, good evaluation
  • End of module questionnaire; unanimous satisfaction with module and very positive qualitative comments regarding the meetings – in particular that they helped them to learn and were enjoyable and stimulating
teaching team reflections
Teaching Team Reflections
  • Introduces students to the world of work and what it means to give professional advice and the students seemed to perceive it as realistic and meaningful.
  • Rich in formal and informal feedback
  • Encourages students to evaluate their progress and learning.
  • Different to any assessment they will have experienced prior to university
  • Opportunity for students to get to know tutors and vice versa
  • The quality of the legal research and advice given was in most cases superior to the initial written assignments
  • It suited some types of students including dyslexic students far better than written exercises.
teaching team reflections potential problems and areas for improvement
Teaching Team Reflections – Potential Problems and Areas for Improvement
  • Quite a stressful experience, especially some of the international students
  • This type of assessment was very resource intensive in terms of staff time
  • The amount of formative tutor feedback they received varied.
  • Realism of simulated meetings (Boon & Whyte, 2002)
  • In the first year the quality of the peer feedback was disappointing
what next
What Next?
  • Further refinements needed
  • Recording formative assessments so that students can review themselves
  • Exploring practice elsewhere
  • Barrie, S. (2009) Setting and monitoring academic standards for Australian Higher Education. Australian Universities Quality Agency. Available from: (Accessed:13 February 2012).
  • Boon, A. and Whyte, A. (2002) Legal Education as vocational preparation?: Perspectives of newly qualified solicitors. Available (Accessed; 30 December 2012)
  • Harvey, L. (2003) Transitions from Higher Education to Work: A briefing paper prepared by Lee Harvey (Centre for Research and Evaluation, Sheffield Hallam University), with advice from ESECT and LTSN Generic Centre colleagues. Available at: (Accessed: 16 October 2013).
  • Knight, P. and Yorke, M. (2004) Learning, Curriculum and Employability in Higher Education. London: RoutledgeFalmer.
  • Pegg, A., Waldock, J., Hendy-Isaac, S. and Lawton, R. (2012) Pedagogy for Employability. Available at: (Accessed: 20 November 2013).
  • Poon, J. and Hoxley M. (2011) Real Estate education; an investigation of multiple stakeholders
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (No date a) Accreditation. Available at (Accessed 20 November 2013)
  • UKCES (2008) UK Commission for Employment and Skills – Employability Skills Project. Review of Evidence on Best Practice in Teaching and Assessing Employability Skills. Available at: (Accessed 20 November 2013).
  • Yorke, M. (2006) Employability in higher education: what it is – what it is not. Learning and Employability Series One. York: ESECT and HEA. Available from: [13 February 2012].