Thursday, 3 May 2012

EIS Seminar 9th May


Dr Serengul Smith, Dr Paula Bernaschina, Vanessa Hill and Adam Edwards will give a talk entitled Superhighways into the Curriculum and Employability: A Three-Way Collaboration. The talk will be on May 9th in G229 starting at 3.

For graduates, gaining employability skills throughout their education is now more important than ever in the current economic climate. Teaching institutions have been increasingly investing in various approaches to ensure that their graduates are fully equipped with knowledge and transferable skills and are able to respond to the changing needs of the job market. Therefore, Middlesex University is building a framework integrating professional skills into curriculum and course design and providing students and academic staff with relevant support and resources.

For a variety of reasons computing science and engineering students tend not to be “readers” or “writers”. They often arrive at university not realising that they will need sound information literacy skills and ability to filter and evaluate the most appropriate sources to do research nor that they are expected to read and write reports and essays at academic level. Intertwined in these actions is the ability to think critically. The lack of criticality is most apparent when students produce written work, which is most often simply a summary of what they have read or done. Although the act of writing is often considered to be a solitary one, in reality this is not the case, especially when the writing takes place in an academic environment. There are many steps that lead up to the moment when words are chosen to express and communicate the ideas and thought processes of the writer. Without these steps there is nothing to write. Therefore, it is crucial that university students are aware of the process they need to undertake in order to progress to an expected level.

At Middlesex University we have formed an intra-university team (The School of Engineering and Information Sciences, the Learner Development Unit and Learning Resources) to target the development of academic and information literacy as well as graduate employability. This paper discusses and critically analyses progress so far with the integration of various skill sets into the wider employability skills framework devised by the School of Engineering and Information Sciences (EIS). Integration has been carried out at a programme level in order to avoid any overlap between the modules of a programme so as to ensure all students receive consistent standards of skills training. This has included work planning the detailed curricula to be followed at each level and coordinating this with academic writing, information literacy and other skills.
Embedding our work within the syllabus of each programme has not only raised student awareness of our existence but also of the importance of each of these aspects (information literacy and academic/professional literacy) in their academic work.

Online surveys have been conducted to elicit data on the marks gained for the linked coursework, the skills and knowledge retained by the students and the views of their tutors as to whether this has made a real difference to the quality of the work the students have produced. As a result, our embedding has grown and moved beyond the 1st year students, we intend to widen our spectrum from 1st year trial to the final year project and MSc level.

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