Student Perceptions of the Value of Career Development Learning to a Work-Integrated Learning Course in Exercise Science

By Reddan, Gregory; Rauchle, Maja | Australian Journal of Career Development, Autumn 2012 | Go to article overview

Student Perceptions of the Value of Career Development Learning to a Work-Integrated Learning Course in Exercise Science


Reddan, Gregory, Rauchle, Maja, Australian Journal of Career Development


CAREER DEVELOPMENT LEARNING

Career development for adult Australians has only recently become a focus in Australian universities. Previously tertiary students had been provided with programs comparatively less developed than those provided in the compulsory secondary school system (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development--OECD, 2002). The Professional Standards for Australian Career Development Practitioners (Careers Industry Council of Australia, 2006) views career development as the process of managing learning, work, leisure and transitions throughout life to assist individuals in determining their future in the workplace. Career development learning helps

[to] inform, guide and assist students to critically appraise not only the world of work, but also the specific occupation they have selected ... and may be deployed to raise students' awareness of employability and how to self-manage their studies and extracurricular activities to optimise the employability. (Smith et al., 2009, p. 18)

In response to the need for a theoretical framework to understand the complexity of the current world of work, Patton and McMahon (2006) developed the Systems Theory Framework, which reconceptualised work-integrated learning through the lens of career development. Systems Theory Framework encompasses individual, social and environmental influences (past, present and future), as well as chance events. Patton and McMahon (2006) also inferred that part of higher education's role is to develop capacities that will permit graduates to be proactive and self-directed learners. The Systems Theory Framework suggests that the choice of one's career should not be considered as a singular decision with a logically determined pathway and that higher education needs to develop particular skills and abilities that allow graduates to be proactive and self-directed learners (Smith et al., 2009).

CAREER DEVELOPMENT LEARNING AND EMPLOYABILITY

A significant number of studies have indicated the benefits of career development to individuals (Herr, Cramer & Niles, 2004; OECD, 2004; Purcell et al., 2008). Career development learning has the potential to positively affect social equity and human capital (Access Economics, 2006) and can be viewed at individual, organisational or societal levels, over immediate, intermediate and long-term time frames (Watts, 1999). Within Australian higher education career development, in particular, has been shown to play an important role in relation to access, equity and social justice (McIlveen, Everton & Clarke, 2005).

The development of self-management skills in students and graduates will enhance lifelong employability. Graduates from Australian universities experience relatively high levels of full-time employment but these statistics may not accurately represent levels of demand and dissatisfaction related to students' learning experiences or their positioning within the world of work after graduation. Numerous strategies may be employed to raise tertiary students' awareness of employability and to develop the skills necessary to manage their studies and extracurricular activities thereby optimising their employability. Yorke viewed employability as

   a set of achievements--skills, understandings and
   personal attributes--that makes graduates more likely
   to gain employment and be successful in their chosen
   occupations, which benefits themselves, the workforce,
   the community and the economy. (2006, p. 8)

The increasing costs involved in higher education internationally have placed greater emphasis on the development of 'graduate employability' (Orrell, 2004). In general, students participate in higher education with the view to improving their career opportunities (Smith et al., 2009), with the relationship between learning and employability clearly identified by the OECD (2004). The landmark Australian report Graduate Employability Skills (Precision Consultancy, 2007) emphasised the need for higher education to provide work-related experiences and also to focus on the development of capacities required for employment. …

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