Employability in curricula SOARing to Success
Arti Kumar MBE
Former CETL Associate Director
Currently freelance consultant, coach, author
Emeritus status at University of Bedfordshire
External Examiner
National Teaching Fellow
HEA Associate
NICEC Fellow
http://www.beds.ac.uk/bridgescetl/through/soar
The current typical employability landscape:
• Academic debates about terminology
• The demand for evidence, research and theory
• Provider-centric mind-set / culture
What connects all
these areas?
Provision might include:

Employer involvement

Internships

Volunteering, work experience, student jobs…

E-portfolios

The Higher Education Achievement Report

Personal Development Planning

Career Management Skills

A focus on ‘graduate attributes’

Subject-specific /occupation-specific skills

Skills awards
Book/e-book: Kumar, A
(2008) London & New
York: Routledge Taylor
& Francis
Why SOAR for employability?*
• Enables individuals to identify and critically appreciate
the universal and personal recursive relationships
between Self, Opportunity, Aspirations, and Results
• Use SOAR as an engaging process of reflective-active
learning for holistic personalised development
• Contextualise in your curriculum
• Pick & mix resources that develop graduate attributes
and professional identity within a coherent framework
• Time-tested & evaluated with students & staff
(in the UK and abroad)
• Theory linked with pedagogy & process
*Kumar, A. (2009b) ‘SOARing for Employability: can Assessment Centre approaches
engage students?’ in Atlay, M. (ed.) Creating Bridges: A collection of articles relating to
implementing the Curriculum Review 2008 (CRe8) University of Bedfordshire internal
publication.
Main underpinning theories
(pedagogy linked with practice)
Appreciative inquiry




Self-efficacy
Engaging with ‘Opportunity’
Optimistic Aspirations
Effective Results
Career theories
e.g. Psychological: Super, Holland…
Social: Community Interaction (Law)
Career Decision Learning (Law)
Education development theories
Personal and social constructionist
approaches
Constructive alignment (Biggs, 2003)
Positive psychology approaches to
teaching, learning and assessment
Threshold Concepts in Employability Curricula, Arti Kumar:
http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/documents/employabili
ty/ArtiKumarEmployabilityArticle.pdf
elf as ‘Hero’ in the
journey of life
What strengths and
development needs do I
bring to ‘x’ opportunity?
What do I need to do and
develop in order to be(come)
effective and productive in a
complex, competitive,
changing world?
Recent research with MBA students, 99% from India:
Kumar, A. (2012) SOARing for Employability – Can this
serve as a transferable pedagogy and process for
developing ‘global graduates’? Proceedings of the 7th QSAPPLE Conference, Manila, November 2011, p.4-15.
‘Begin with the
end in mind’ …*
What result do you
need / want to achieve?
nd of align
Own2and
*The
Covey’s
7
habits of goals
highly with
personal
effective
people
professional
requirements
Goal setting and
personal agency
theories
It’s your journey
through life: are you
in the driving seat?
My Self
My Opportunities
My Aspirations
My Results
elf’ at the heart of SOAR
• Identify strengths (not easy, however!)
– “something I do best”
– “something I do better than others” – “…which few others are good at” – “…and which is aligned with the
requirements of ‘x’ opportunity”
• Address development needs
• Develop Self-MAPs to provide directions
and destinations to build and guide your
progress through a life-career
My SelfMAP*
What *MAP* do you need
to be(come) effective and
productive – in learning,
work & life in general?
*Motivation (beliefs,
interests, priorities)
Ability (knowledge, skills,
competencies)
Personality (interactions
My SelfMAP*
What does your Self-MAP look like?
Reflect or share in pairs / groups…



One thing that motivates you – what gives you a buzz?
One thing you are good(or best) at – a skill or ability
One positive aspect of your personality – how do you like
to interact with others?
Your MAPs can be evidenced in learning, work and life
in general
Then one could discuss (given the time)…
 How has your MAP influenced your journey so far?
 How could it help you reach your goal(s), etc.
How could SOAR work for your students?
Self- Opportunity awareness:
Assignment: Students choose an
option or occupation and explore the
extent of alignment between their
MAP and the MAP required in this
developmental ‘world of opportunity’
“I have enjoyed being a
volunteer at the BBC
regional radio station. I
don’t think I want to do this
for a career though…” First year student’s
reflective log in e-portfolio
Opportunities for learning and
developing in multiple contexts
In the community
In study
At leisure
“I never knew
I had so much
substance!”
(student)
as a ‘meta-model’ :
- students understand,
identify and develop
effective behaviours
- move from student
to graduate to
professional identity
How captured
• (e)-portfolio?
• HE Achievement
Report (HEAR)?
• CV / resume?
Reciprocal model of causal relations between selfevaluation, self-monitoring and achievement (John Hattie)
Driving behavioural competencies towards
personal and interpersonal
effectiveness in tandem
beds.ac.uk/bridgescetl
An example of self-assesment:
In relation to group / team effectiveness…
To what extent do I (a) consider these actions
important; (b) act in this way? –
Where 4 = high and 1 = low
I express myself confidently and
assertively
a) Ratings
1–4
importance
b) Ratings
1-4
frequency
The behaviours I
consider most
important are…
My highest ratings:…
I contribute ideas and suggestions
relevant to the task
I take on a specific role when
required
I listen respectfully to others
I support others’ positive
contributions
I focus (or re-focus) the group on
its tasks and goals
I help the group to achieve its goals
within a given timeframe
Evidence that I do this in
real life…
Areas I need to
improve:…
Opportunities I will use in
order to improve…
Self-Opportunity-Aspirations
…generate, clarify, test aspirations
'Whatever you can do, or dream you
can, begin it! Boldness has genius,
magic, and power in it.' (one of Goethe’s
couplets)
Individuals must adopt strategies for
making sound, informed decisions and develop these progressively for
future re-use.
Planning action to implement
decisions needs to take both a short
and long-term view, and be capable
of constant adjustment
Self-OpportunityAspirations-Results
• A winning CV, application,
interview and Assessment
Centre requires
– Targeting suitable opportunities
– Matching its requirements with the
‘Self-MAP’ or applicant profile
“I learned to write a
– Understanding ‘transferability’
good CV and got a
summer holiday job – Defending a decision at interview
in an advertising
– Demonstrating ‘behavioural
agency, which is
competencies’ at Assessment Centre
very hard to get…”
activities and exercises
- First year student
SOAR as a spine or spiral in curricula at UoB
HEAR (Burgess, 2007)
Skills Award
(E)
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Staff and students work in
partnership to unlock their
potential…
The recursive relationships between
SOAR elements generate synergy
and real-life relevance
Animate and contextualise SOAR
within different subject disciplines
Take integrated development to a
whole new dimension: put the
jigsaw bridge together!
Main References
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Atlay, M.; A. Gaitan & A. Kumar (2008). Stimulating Learning – Creating
CRe8. In C. Nygaard & C. Holtham (eds.). Understanding LearningCentred Higher Education. Frederiksberg, Denmark: CBS Press.
Biggs, J. (2003) Aligning Teaching for Constructive Learning York: the
Higher Education Academy
Burgess, R. (2007). Measuring and Recording Student Achievement:
report of the Scoping Group. London: Universities UK & SCOP.
Hattie, J.A.C. (2009) Visible Learning: a synthesis of meta-analyses
relating to achievement Oxon, USA and Canada: Routledge
Kumar, A.(2008) Personal, Academic and Career Development in
Higher Education – SOARing to Success London & New York:
Routledge Taylor & Francis. Companion website last accessed 1 June
2011 http://www.routledge.com/professional/978041542360-1/
Watkins, J. and Cooperrider, D. (2000) ‘Appreciative inquiry: a
transformative paradigm. Journal of the Organization Development
Network, 32, 6–12.
Watts, A et al (1996) Rethinking Careers Education and Guidance:
Theory, Policy and Practice London & New York: Routledge
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Employability in curricula