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  5. Student development and perceptions of employability skills in stage 1 science

Student development and perceptions of employability skills in stage 1 science

Project leader(s): 
Fiona Aiken and Chris Hutton
Theme: 
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current

Radar diagrams are used on S112 for students to self-assess and reflect upon their skills development – every TMA contains a task on this. Students complete the radar diagrams by self-assessing their skill level on a number of parameters on a scale between 1 (low) and 10 (confident)– this is then automatically converted to a radar diagram, where skills are grouped onto a radar according to the learning outcome they are associated with. The aim of this proposal is to use two of these diagrams as proxies for student awareness and development of employability skills: PPS2 (commenting on others’ work, contributing to discussions, working in a team, sharing digital content, business/customer awareness) and PPS3 (time management, PDP, reflecting on feedback, reflecting on practice).  The importance of employability skills is well documented in the current HE landscape (Wakeham, 2016,2017), and this project sets out to assess how students on S112 develop and perceive a subset of skills pertaining to employability. The research questions addressed are:

  1. To what extent do S112 students demonstrate development of employability skills through S112? (Determined from TMA submissions)
  2. What are S112 students’ perceptions of their employability skills development through S112? (Determined from student radar diagrams)

We will recruit four S112 tutors to track and collate their students’ responses to the radar diagram questions on TMAs 1-6 for their student groups; after obtaining expressions of interest from S112 tutors on the Esteem register, they will be asked to poll their group to contain student consent – only tutors with groups showing a minimum of 50 % (10 / 20 students) will be eligible for selection to take part in the project. This data collection will involve the ALs completing an anonymous pro-forma of the responses of their students to the radar diagrams being used in the TMA. This will involve the four ALs collating their students’ answers to the relevant TMA question from each TMA, recording their marks, and also providing summary data (response rate to the question, and any overarching comments.) They will also be asked to log their own responses to their students’ perceptions of the radar diagrams.  This will allow the capture of students’ perception of their improvement in their employability skills throughout the module.  At the end of the 18J presentation, the participating student groups will be asked to complete a questionnaire and be invited to a focus group in order to enrich the findings. The same questionnaire will be sent to a control group of students from TGs which have not participated in the project – this is to control for implicit / conformation bias in the TGs participating (e.g. tutors participating will be likely to have presented radar diagrams very positively to their students). The tutors will also be asked to participate in a focus group to add their perspective and triangulate evidence; finally, tutors will be asked to each contribute a short evaluative report. 

It is intended that the findings of this project will help inform future use of radar diagrams for skills development, both on S112 and potentially more widely in STEM. It is anticipated this could be both making recommendations for how they are used in a module / assessment, and how they are presented to students. There is also the potential to develop radar diagrams as a means of supporting student progression to their first level 2 module, by enabling a skills audit with the next tutor. The research findings will be shared in the Faculty (e.g. with the Stage 1 Module Chairs group; the STEM Boards of Studies; at the eSTEeM conference) and more widely (e.g. with the Scholarship series, in addition to externally HEA STEM conference / Horizons in STEM).


Wakeham, W. (2016) Wakeham review of STEM degree provision and graduate employability [Online],HM UK Government. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/518582/ind-16-6-wakeham-review-stem-graduate-employability.pdf  (Accessed Aug 2018).

Wakeham, W. (2017) Keynote presented at HEA STEM Conference 2017: Achieving Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Manchester, UK, 1-2 Feb [Online]. Available at https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/downloads/prof_sir_william_wakeham_hea_stem_conference_presentation.pdf (Accessed  Aug 2018).

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