RAPPORT, Volume 2, Issue 1 RAPPORT Issue 1 version4FINALSO - Page 29

RAPPORT WWW.RECORDINGACHIEVEMENT.AC.UK Issue 1 (2017) Employability is more than a good CV. If all we are going to ask students to do is prepare this or something similar, they (and we) are likely to miss the point that employability is more complex and is about the development and special qualities of the individual. Employability is about being more insightful, more experienced, evidencing the development of new and transferable skills, being aware of new knowledge and sensitive to others. We know that the knowledge which we impart to students will date. We know that the job market will keep changing. Ideally, our students have engaged with a process that will allow them to keep learning, matching demands for new skills and impressing employers with other qualities that make them stand out as uniquely good. The benefits of education should not finish with the qualification. Learning and teaching can be supportive of students becoming independent learners over the longer term and across a wider range of experiences, both ‘lifelong’ and ‘lifewide’ learning: “The important characteristic of lifewide learning is that it embraces a compre- hensive understanding and practice of learning, development, knowledge and knowing and achievement. Lifewide learning includes all types of learning – learning that is developed in formal educational environments which is directed or self- managed, learning that is intentional or unintended, learning that is driven by our interests and its intrinsic value, as well as our needs, and learning which just emerges during the course of our daily activity. To be a competent lifewide learner requires not only the ability to recognise and take advantage of opportunities and the will and capability to get involved, it also requires self-awareness derived from consciously thinking about and extracting meaning and significance from the experiences that populate our lives” (Jackson, 2016, p. 3). This is consistent with the application of classical reflective models such as Schön (1983) and these (along with Kolb (1984) and Gibbs & Simpson (2004)) are used to underpin the guidance to students when asked to be reflective within the context of assessment across a programme of study, an idea supported by Yorke and Knight (2004) – “Some aspects of employability take time to develop, suggesting that the focus needs to be on employability across a whole programme rather than on individual programme components (modules).” (Yorke and Knight, 2004, p. 2). The importance of assessment Assessment means different things to different people - a confirmation of learning, repetition of knowledge, a critical appraisal, a motivator, a form of evidence or a commitment to work hard. Assessment is a measure of performance and can be some kind of challenge (how many students will brag about doing an ‘all-nighter’?). It can also provide a measure of self-fulfilment. Assessment may be what others judge you by – seeing you as successful and potentially employable as a graduate. It certainly can do more than just provide marks at the end of a module. According to Race (2001, p. 3) assessment is “the most important thing that happens to you in higher education”. Assessment can be fair, consistent and objective but add little to employability. If courses all offer very similar curricular structure and content (and outcome), how can we expect students to evidence their unique qualities? If assessment becomes a series of standardised tasks like multi-choice tests, examinations that require the application of existing knowledge or a coursework assignment that critically reviews the same case-study, how can a student stand out? A recent end-of-module review within a Business School asked students what they would like to say about themselves, the outcomes of which would be of interest to employers. The small sample of statements below (Table 1) were typical and shows the awareness of employability and the challenge of assessment is to provide opportunities to evidence this. Table 1: Students’ responses to end-of-module review I have spoken to a number of managers in the kind of retail outlet of interest to me and they consistently said that …. To have more business value, these Excel models would need to include … I know that I could organise this kind of event because … The video now on YouTube shows my presentation to a group of …. My blog shows an interest in interior design … 28