With technological progress accelerating more and more and global job markets becoming increasingly competitive, assessing knowledge only through tests and exams is not enough. In response to these changing demands, the Higher Education sector has been focusing on combining academic services with equipping its graduates with skills for life, and the lecture theatre seems like a great place to start that journey. So, it may be worth considering a few key questions next time you design a course and the projects and assessments that come with it. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Communication skills: give your students an opportunity to practise debating and presenting ideas/projects/their research. Can they experience working with their local communities, visit schools or attend a professional networking event? Well-crafted essays are important part of an academic journey but so are such skills as effective public speaking, influencing and the ability to articulate one’s knowledge in an engaging way. Activities to consider may be: assessed debates or discussion boards for distance learners, outreach projects with local charities, schools and communities, working with external industry-specific organisations to run networking events or Q&A sessions about particular career paths
- Project management skills: assessing group projects is fairly common, so how about adding an additional step. When you ask your students to reflect on how the project went ask them to clarify how they felt they did at different stages of the project, from start to finish, how they managed milestones, what they learned from the process, and what their role was. You can use the STARR model where they will have to articulate the situation and their goals, tasks they were in charge of, actions they took and the results their approach produced, alongside the reflection about what went well and even better if. That way they will be able to practise talking about their experience in a way that is often expected at interviews.
- Digital Skills: with smartphones and tablets being ubiquitous nowadays, do we take students’ digital literacy for granted sometimes? It’s one thing to post on social media and another to understand the basics of Excel, to know how to create good quality presentations. Consider how you can give your students relentless opportunities to master their digital skills and become competitive as graduates.
By helping your students build a wide range of competencies and having a positive impact on their graduate careers and employment, you will enhance their university experience and your institution’s reputation. Not only will they be able to secure employment but also, more importantly, ensure sustained success in the workplace. And, as a side-effect, you will work with more engaged individuals who cannot wait to attend your lectures and tutorials, and who would say no to that!
Listen to this:
Squiggly careers podcast: a brilliant resource with real-life examples of what skills matter in today’s workplaces, e.g. handling difficult conversations or working with feedback.
Reflect: now that you have read this article, take a few minutes and jot down answers to the questions below. This will help you remember the most insightful points and put together an action plan that works for you:
- What inspired you?
- As a result, what do you want to do more of?
- And what do you want to do less of?
- What will you do next to achieve these goals?