Learning, Curriculum, and Employability in Higher Education

By Peter Knight; Mantz Yorke | Go to book overview

Part II:

Towards the enhancement of practice

In Part I we offered a description of employability in general and argued that it can be enhanced by good mainstream curricula and vigorous co-curricula. Given the closeness of our account of what employers value to common thinking about the processes and outcomes of good higher education practices, the argument was that institutions concerned to enhance student employability would also be enhancing student learning and vice versa. What, though, might higher education institutions do to secure these twin benefits?

Part II begins by considering what would be needed to develop understanding, skilful practices, efficacy beliefs and metacognition in the first cycle of higher education. A discussion of ways in which employability may be enhanced in various workplace-related ways then follows in Chapter 7. Given that the curriculum that students really experience is shaped by the ways in which their learning is assessed, we take time in Chapter 8 to explain how the fuzzy and complex achievements that are central to higher education and to employability may be reached by differentiated assessment arrangements. We notice that there is international consternation about the assessment of learning and argue that a concern to promote employability exacerbates matters. Although it might be convenient to exclude assessment issues from the discussion, if employability were kept in the unassessed attics of the curriculum, neither would it be taken very seriously, nor would the processes and outcomes associated both with it and good pedagogic practices get the attention they need to flourish. So, before we describe curriculum developments favourable to employability, we need to consider assessment issues.

In Chapters 9-11 we survey curriculum development work done within the Skills plus project in four universities in the north-west of England between 2000 and 2002. The three accounts and the overview in Chapter 12 describe an approach to curriculum enhancement that we have found transportable, robust and effective.

Chapter 13 goes beyond the specifics of programme development and explores the implications for universities and colleges. In asking what they need, as institutions, to do in order to help students make the best possible claims to employability, we are also asking, of course, what they need to do to promote good learning.

Even if the term 'employability' is not widely used beyond the shores of the UK, there are - without doubt - questions about what higher education should be doing in order to stimulate the sorts of achievements that employers around the 5

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