Forming the Staffordshire Graduate

Forming the ‘Staffordshire Graduate’:
A research project
Identifying and implementing best practice
in preparing our students for the‘ real
Alan Eardley, Faculty of Computing, Engineering & Sciences
Forming ‘the
Staffordshire Graduate’
A research collaboration between FCES and IEPR.
‘To examine ‘employability’ factors in the curriculum at
Staffordshire University and to offer guidelines for
curriculum development that will improve student
The researchers are:
• Professor Alan Eardley (FCES)
• Professor Tehmina N Basit (IEPR)
• Rosemary Borup (FCES)
Objectives of the project
The objectives of the project are:
• To critique the literature on employability in learning and teaching to
identify theories, and models in a variety of curricula;
• To examine a sample of under- and postgraduate curricula at
Staffordshire University to identify examples of ‘best practice’ in
employability and to compare them with examples in the literature;
• To interview a sample of SU graduates and placement students, the
Careers Service and Placement Officers to assess their experience of the
effectiveness of our current employability mechanisms;
• To design a set of flexible and practical guidelines for improving SU
student employability across a range of subjects through sound
curriculum development in line with the concept of ‘The Staffordshire
Impact of the project
The impact on the delivery of under- and postgraduate
programmes will be:
• Employability ‘best practice’ will be spread into
modules that will augment the University’s existing
employability processes.
• Students will be better prepared and equipped with the
knowledge, skills and resources to improve their ability
to secure employment.
• Employers will be more confident in finding in our
graduates the ‘soft skills’ and qualities in the workplace
that make the ‘The Staffordshire Graduate’ eminently
Research questions
The research questions informing the project are:
• ‘In what ways do current theories, models and examples
underpin best practice in employability in the Higher
Education Curriculum?’
• ‘How effective is the current SU curriculum in facilitating
employability in SU students?’
• ‘How can we improve and update our programmes,
curricula and facilities to improve and maintain the
employability of our graduates in line with the concept
of ‘The Staffordshire Graduate’?’
Project outcomes
• The completed project will enable learning and teaching
group leaders, programme and award leaders and
academic staff in general to include employability best
practice into their curricula, programmes.
• University services which engage with students and
employers will be confident that the students are better
prepared and equipped to understand and take
advantage of the advice and guidance they are given.
• Students will be better prepared for obtaining, retaining
and benefiting from employment through the learning
• Employers will be more confident that our graduates
will be able to deliver consistently and reliably the
promise of ‘The Staffordshire Graduate’.
Dissemination of findings
The project will disseminate its findings in the following ways:
• Through the University Academy of Teaching Excellence at its
regular seminars;
• Through an interim report at the end of the first section of the
• At a suitable education/research conference (e.g. ICERI 2014 7th
International Conference of Education Research & Innovation);
• Through the publication of a paper in an educational journal (e.g.
Journal of Teaching and Learning);
• The Researchers will present to Faculty Management Teams,
Teaching Groups and Award and Programme Committees;
• A final report will be produced at the end of the project.
Interim findings
Findings from the project stages so far, related
to the Staffordshire Graduate attributes :
• Critique of the literature on employability in learning
and teaching to identify theories, and models in a
variety of curricula;
• Examination of a sample of under- and postgraduate
curricula at Staffordshire University to identify examples
of ‘best practice’ in employability and to compare them
with examples in the literature.
Discipline Expert
‘Have an understanding of the forefront of knowledge in
(the student’s) chosen field’
Key curriculum features:
Opportunity to practice secondary research
Leading edge curriculum design
Exposure to latest technology/artefacts
Introduction to examples of best practice in field
Where found?
• Core award modules/specialist options/project/dissertation
• Information sources (online and library)
• University resources and facilities
‘ and employable, and understand the
importance of being enterprising and entrepreneurial’
Key curriculum features:
• Professional experience
• Contact with ‘industry champions’ (including SU graduates)
• Enterprise related to the curriculum
Where found?
Work placement opportunities (optional?)
Visiting lectures/work-place visits
Work simulation/role playing/case studies in modules
‘Enterprise’ topics in core modules
Global Citizen
‘Have an understanding of global issues and their place in
a globalised economy’
Key features:
• International University culture
• Knowledge of world issues/world news
Where found?
• Student union activities
• Contact with students/lecturers from international community
• Modules that deal with global/economic issues
‘Have developed the skills of independence of thought interaction through teamwork’
Key features:
Confidence in problem understanding/solving
Goal sharing/mediation skills/experience
Collaboration skills/experience
Negotiation and discussion skills/experience
Where found?
• Practical projects/critical exercises
• Group work exercises/seminars/discussions
• Social projects and developments
‘Be an effective communicator and presenter and be able
to interact appropriately and confidently with a range of
Key features:
• Experience of composing reports/papers/multimedia artefacts
• Experience of delivering presentations
• Confidence in taking part in discussions
Where found?
Reflective & Critical
‘Have the ability to carry out inquiry-based learning and
critical analysis. Be a problem solver and creator of
Key features:
• Experience of applying problem analysis techniques
• Experience of problem solving techniques
• Skills of critical evaluation
Where found?
• Problem-based learning exercises
• Critique of artefacts/the work of others
• Self-critical evaluation
Life Long Learner
‘Be technologically, digitally and information literate.
Be able to apply Staffordshire Graduate attributes to a
range of life experiences to facilitate life-long learning
and life-long success’
Key features:
• Confidence in using IT facilities and services
• Mastery of information retrieval and understanding
• Transferable skills
Where found?
• In many modules ...
• Applying Staffordshire Graduate experience for life ...
• Employability issues are represented in many SU
undergraduate programmes
• SU offers effective employment/employability services
• Many SU awards offer opportunities for undergraduate
professional development
• Many SU Level 6 modules offer opportunities to develop
Staffordshire Graduate attributes:
Transferable skills
Problem solving
Critical evaluation
Communication and collaboration skills
But...more questions:
• Could the provision in modules and awards be
more consistent?
• Could the development new and revised awards
be more consistently underpinned by valid
employability theories and models
• Could SU do more to support life-long learning?
– Linked Postgraduate programmes?
– Professional research studies?
Forming the
Staffordshire Graduate

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