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Results of the SPHERE UG Project Evaluation in the context of ‘embedding’ employability at UoW

Results of the SPHERE UG Project Evaluation in the context of ‘embedding’ employability at UoW. Dr. Ann Bicknell C.Psychol. a.bicknell@worc.ac.uk Dr. Jan Francis-Smythe, Dir. Of CP@W. Topics for today:. A brief history of SPHERE Consider Graduate Employability …again….?

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Results of the SPHERE UG Project Evaluation in the context of ‘embedding’ employability at UoW

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  1. Results of the SPHERE UG Project Evaluation in the context of ‘embedding’ employability at UoW Dr. Ann Bicknell C.Psychol.a.bicknell@worc.ac.ukDr. Jan Francis-Smythe, Dir. Of CP@W

  2. Topics for today: • A brief history of SPHERE • Consider Graduate Employability …again….? • Is HE Supporting graduate functionality: an applied as well as an academic education? • …In light of ‘Graduate Competencies’ • Consider some results from one evaluation of WBL focusing on the UG dissertation • What is needed at UoW now ? (and in light of the above discussions)

  3. Shared Police and Higher Education Research & Enterprise (SPHERE) • SPHERE partnership initiated in 1997: • To enable the force to utilise academic expertise to enhance its operational effectiveness • To allow University students and staff the opportunity to enhance their applied research and knowledge transfer experience • 47 projects completed to-date by under-graduate/post-graduate students and staff • Topics- from police training and careers to the impact of neighbourhood wardens on communities

  4. SPHERE Achievements: • Research and knowledge transfer outputs (47 academic publications/conference papers, 17 student theses) • Input to teaching programmes: Public Sector Management, Human Resource Management, Psychology, IT, Sociology, Education, Geography • Queen’s Award for Innovation in Police Training and Development; the SCOP Lambert Review 2003; Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary Best Value Training Review 2005; case study of best practice in 3rd stream activity by (HEFCE) in 2005

  5. A general problem: “Annually Britain turns out quarter of a million graduates.” (Gordon Brown, 2006) “a tangible skills gap between what employers want and what universities are delivering” (Morely, 2001). Almost half of the businesses questioned in a survey of 222 companies by the Association of Graduate Recruiters “believe that universities were not equipping students with the right skills to succeed in the workplace.” (AGR: Ford, 2004).

  6. Why is this happening& what do we think about that

  7. A recent development: “Universities could be funded according to their ability to produce employable graduates, as the Government seeks to measure their success in ‘up-skilling the workforce’.” “While making it clear that there is no immediate plan to implement such a regime, HEFCE says that a graduate employment indicator ‘has the long term potential to be one of a basket of measures that could collectively be used as a basis for incentive funding mechanisms’.” (THE 23.10.08) Paper requested from HEFCE by John Denham re future of sector to 2020. Employability 1 of 5 policy areas

  8. What do we think about this

  9. A concerned response from HE: “All it would do is reinforce what we already see of students only wanting to study subjects that will get them an immediate job, often at the expense of subjects that might be better for their long term development”. “…There is no reference among those headings to the development of scholarship, no reference to what higher education is ultimately about”. (Roger Brown, Prof. of Higher Education at Liverpool Hope).

  10. Are the two (employability & the development of scholarship) mutually exclusive

  11. Can we ask students not to be focused on employability in the current economic situation

  12. Employability: • 65-70% or more of UK HE students report their reason for attendance is to gain employment at graduation (HESA) • ‘Credentialling’ makes commensurate employment more of a challenge – more of a competition? • Concern about potentially under-employed ‘subsets’ of graduates (HEFCE, 2006)

  13. What is the ‘purpose’ of HE? • The notion of HE as a research training skills area is not borne out by the most popular subjects studied at degree; law, design studies, psychology, management, business studies and computer science (UCAS, 2006). • With the onset of tuition fees it is not surprising that degree choice has become a more ‘rational’ one. • The learning should not be any ‘shallower’ for having this utilitarian choice (Brookfield, 1986).

  14. Employability is more than a (good) degree: • The assessment of functionality in a work role – a competency • “a set of behaviours required to perform a task well” (Kurz & Bartram, 2002). • Specific • Observable • Objective - can be transparently assessed through organisational selection procedures

  15. Do Our Undergraduates know about these things? Or HE Staff? • The ‘Great 8’ Competency Framework: • Leading and Deciding • Supporting and Cooperating • Interacting and Presenting • Analysing and Reporting • Creating and Conceptualising • Organising and Executing • Adapting and Coping • Enterprising and Performing • Bartram, D. (2003) SHL Group.

  16. Our Problem: • If we accept that employability is more than a (good) degree… • We want our graduates to compete for commensurate employment in the job market • So, we offer a vehicle to directly improve their employability potential (EmP) • A WBL opportunity to complete a ‘real world’ project for the UG dissertation • ….And hardly any students take it up!

  17. Why is this happening?

  18. Evaluation demographics: • 13 Staff/WMC interviews • (across departments + student services) • 45 UW responded to a Staff e-survey • Most respondents 4-6 yrs UW: SL or PL • 80% (35) supervised UG projects • (between 3-15 annually) • 270 UW responded to a Student e-survey • Most respondents in final year 47% (126) • 85% in full time study (226) • 80% (214) male • 30% (82) 21-25 + further (115) 26-46+ ranges

  19. Staff – Key Themes: • Awareness & Concerns about SPHERE • Potential benefits afforded to students through SPHERE e.g. employability • Experiences of supervising a student through a SPHERE project • Barriers to working (more) with SPHERE in UG supervision • Knowledge Transfer Awareness • Knowledge Transfer activities undertaken • Issues in KT responsibilities becoming part of the academic role • Training and development needs for staff related to Knowledge Transfer & SPHERE

  20. Staff – Lack of awareness: • 80% (35) had not seen a SPHERE project titles list • 80% were NOT aware that there was a student initiated SPHERE project route at all • Actions: • Review advertising and publications strategies for SPHERE UG student projects • Re-launch 2 models

  21. Staff – Concerns: • “… the design and eventual nature of the research MUST be free from external political agenda and must permit the student and staff the academic freedom permitted by the University. If the external body has too much input and a pre-determined project I do not feel it appropriate for Independent Study, but it is excellent for work placement or a project based module.” • “Subjecting self to control of the authority.” • “Left wing view of what academic life should be like. May feel unable to work with an organisation in a prescriptive position.” • “Also, concept of IS. Academic atmosphere is different from world of work. Not to be so vocationally oriented.” • “What must be avoided, is the assumption that a university degree should …. merely serve superficial demands of industry.”

  22. Staff – Barriers 1: Almost 50% of e-survey respondents referenced the following issues: Staff training and development needs: A presentation on the ethos of sphere and a mentoring system for the first year. More suitable topics, faster response to student initiated ideas and more freedom for the student to develop as researcher not just project assistant. Strategic management and integration of KT activity: Greater awareness and communication between all with budgets and managerial accountability, which ever organisation. I already try to do KT work. The shear volume of all the work I have to do prevents me from doing more. ‘Selection procedures’ for students for 'show casing' our institution? Concern over relative academic ‘merit’ for KT

  23. Staff Barriers - 2: Resource issues: Timescales imposed and level of governance received from the 'external' body A reduced teaching load, particularly overburdening in science areas with their concomitant high contact hours. Awareness that there are very clear systems and processes to support supervising SPHERE projects; time to give to these. New ideas should be promulgated which reduce administration rather than increasing it, as has always been the case... Further funding and further resource.

  24. New Location for SPHERE • Now within BDO – A new opportunity • Improve continuity and liaison between • university and organisation • Re-launch two SPHERE pathways to • emphasise the Student-Initiated project route • Broaden access for students • Broaden uptake by other UW departments

  25. SPHERE IS Pathway #1Partner Initiated WMC provide list of general projects to UW by beginning November each year with a named WMC contact. The project will normally be part of a WMC corporate project with a full Project Assignment Brief (PAB). Or….

  26. SPHERE IS Pathway #2Student Initiated Student’s tutor approaches (SPHERE) with student’s own project idea. JFS will discuss with relevant individual in WMC. If agreed workable after initial discussion, added to potential student project list. These projects would not normally be a corporate program in WMC and PAB would therefore be optional (to be agreed by WMC lead and student).

  27. Why so much detail in Partnership? • Based on 10 years of applied experience • Appropriate for this Partner • Others may be similar or require modification to this system • Provides ‘insurance’ for the student and supervisor once project proposal is signed • Ensures necessary UW administration procedures are adhered to • Sets expectations on both sides • Provides grounds for audit and follow-up

  28. Student – Key Themes: • Awareness of SPHERE • Experiences of being a student supervised through a SPHERE project • Barriers to working (more) with SPHERE UG projects • Potential benefits (& challenges) afforded to students through SPHERE e.g. employability • Training and development (support) needs for students related to SPHERE / Partnership working

  29. Students – Lack of awareness: 87% (230) report never having heard of SPHERE UG projects 89% (231) students report knowing almost nothing about SPHERE compared with only 10% (27) students who report their awareness as ‘good’. 91% (238) students report never having seen a ‘Tableslips’ advert or a SPHERE flyer Actions: In order to improve the marketing impact the 10% (25) indicated how they would like to receive adverts for similar UG opportunities: By an all-students email 85% From your Lecturers 61% From visiting speakers in your lectures 32% Through Tableslips in the canteen 33% At UW Careers Fairs 21% By contacting the UW careers service 11%

  30. Students – Benefits: • The benefits of such WBL schemes are widely endorsed, in particular by Students. • 103 Students attribute the following characteristics to opportunities such as SPHERE UG projects: • Applying learning and theory in ‘the real world’ – 2-way credibility • Benefits to the IS process (support with focusing their topic and access to ‘real world’ data) • SO: supporting the development of scholarship • Considering career choices (mature students as well) • Dealing with challenges (negotiation, planning, liaising, team working) • Confidence building • And: developing functionality and applied ‘value-added’ • experience for employers

  31. Students – Needs: • 79% would like to learn more about SPHERE in project seminars • 54% would like workshops on managing relationships with external organisations

  32. SPHERE Students – Feedback: Negotiation: “Early discussion with a member of the west Mercia police team involved in SPHERE would be useful (maybe by them visiting the university).” Communications: “Slightly better communication between the students and the organisation would be beneficial.  There was that flurry of e-mails early in the month that gave us the impression we were holding them up.  However, it's now the other way around, with us unsure what they are doing.”  Resource & support implications: “I understand that our two contacts also have a lot of work to do, and can't be dedicated to us solely, but perhaps the creation of a once a month catch up tele-conference?  Everyone sits down and makes sure that everyone knows what the others are doing, rather than chasing each other.”

  33. Some feedback from this Partner& recommendations for UW looking forward:

  34. Some feedback from this Partner: • It would appear that some academics struggle to maintain an ‘objective distance’ on their own stereotypes of what the Police Service is. • Occasionally projects are ‘out of date’…on issues that are based on stereotypes of the Police Service but which don’t explore any new territory…just dichotomies that no longer exist. . Are we at risk of under-estimating what the demands of industry really are ??

  35. Some feedback from the Partner: • UG project questions can be limited by the research skills of the student and their capacity to deal with a particular research question. • PG projects and PhDs provide more immediate benefits to WMC. • We are very open minded and will discuss any project ideas put forward to us and from whatever discipline they come. . Are we and/or our students not being creative enough in our approaches to Partners?

  36. Levels of UoW Response: 1 Strategic Endorsement for ‘KT’ activity → WBL Liaison and Administration support for Partners & Students (ensure QA, sustainability, managed relationships) 2 Staff Awareness raising Support & & ‘KT competency’ development interventions (e.g. training & coaching) Incentives & recognition 3Students Awareness raising & ‘idea encouragement’ Facilitation & Process support

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