Developing Your Students` Professional Skills

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Purpose of this Toolkit
The Toolkits developed by members of the Griffith Graduate Project are intended primarily for
academic staff. They offer an overview of some of the main issues related to developing students’
graduate skills during their degree studies.
They draw extensively on existing literature and current practice in universities around the world
and include numerous references and links to useful web resources.
They are not comprehensive ‘guides’ or ‘how to’ booklets. Rather, they incorporate the
perspectives of academic staff, students, graduates and employers on the graduate skills adopted by
Griffith University in its Strategic Plan, 2003-2007 in the Griffith Graduate Statement:
http://www.griffith.edu.au/ua/aa/plans/docs/strategicplan2003-2007.pdf
This Toolkit, Professional Skills, focuses on how you can help students with their speaking and
presentation skills while studying at university.
This toolkit, together with others in the series including:
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Critical Evaluation;
Information Literacy;
Oral Communication;
Problem-Solving;
Teamwork; and
Written Communication;
can also be accessed on the Web at:
http://www.griffith.edu.au/centre/gihe/griffith_graduate/home.html
Copyright: Griffith Institute for Higher Education, Griffith University, Nathan, Brisbane, Australia, 2004.
PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
Students’ professional skills............................................................................................................ 19
Table of Contents
Why your students need professional skills .............................................................. 5
Definitions ........................................................................................................................................... 5
The need for professional skills ........................................................................................................ 6
What employers, graduates and students say about professional skills ............... 7
Employers’ comments........................................................................................................................ 7
Graduates’ comments......................................................................................................................... 7
Students’ comments ........................................................................................................................... 7
Research shows: .................................................................................................................................. 8
Teaching tips—How to develop your students’ professional skills through
work-integrated learning (WIL)..................................................................................... 9
What is work-integrated learning? .................................................................................................... 9
How does work-integrated learning develop students’ professional skills? ................................ 9
Some models of work-integrated learning..................................................................................... 10
Things to consider when introducing work-integrated learning................................................. 11
Ideas to use in work-integrated learning........................................................................................ 11
Issues in work-integrated learning .................................................................................................. 12
Maximising learning outcomes through reflection....................................................................... 12
Setting up learning contracts before the work-integrated learning experience......................... 13
Reflective journals or learning documents .................................................................................... 13
Assessing students’ professional skills ................................................................... 14
What are you assessing in work-integrated learning?................................................................... 14
Three major issues in assessing work-integrated learning ........................................................... 14
Different models for assessing students' professional skills ....................................................... 15
Graduate outcomes at the heart of placement assessment ......................................................... 16
Ideas for work placement assessment............................................................................................ 16
Who should assess students’ professional skills?.......................................................................... 17
Principles of effective professional skills................................................................. 19
Students’ professional skills............................................................................................................. 19
WIL models include ......................................................................................................................... 19
Assessment of professional skills through WIL ........................................................................... 19
Where to go for help.................................................................................................... 20
Contacts ............................................................................................................................................. 20
The Office of Community Partnerships........................................................................................ 21
Professional Capabilities Program (PCP) ...................................................................................... 21
CareerBoard....................................................................................................................................... 22
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Table of contents
What do WIL coordinators need to consider? ............................................................................. 19
PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
Workplace Contact List ................................................................................................................... 22
Job Search and Career Development Seminars ............................................................................ 22
On-Line Career Development Program........................................................................................ 23
Griffith University Mentoring Program ........................................................................................ 23
Work Experience for Indigenous Students ................................................................................... 23
Additional resources................................................................................................... 24
Print .................................................................................................................................................... 24
Table of contents
Web..................................................................................................................................................... 24
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PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
Why your students need professional
skills
This Toolkit, Developing Your Students’ Professional Skills, focuses on how students can benefit
from learning and working in a professional context outside the university, while studying.
Learning in the workplace, on work experience, in a practicum, doing a work placement,
etc., gives students the opportunity to:
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Identify the relevance of particular theoretical concepts, skills and ways of
proceeding that have been learnt in their course of study, and thus encourages more
intentional classroom learning;
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Put theory into practice;
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Appreciate that academic success is not the only attribute for successful employment
and careers;
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Develop an awareness of workplace culture and appreciate the rapidly changing
nature of the world of work;
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Evaluate and develop work-related personal attributes (diplomacy, cooperation,
workplace etiquette and leadership);
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Develop specific communicative and interactive abilities; and
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Establish career plans and strategies.
Orrell, J. (2001). Work-integrated learning in universities: Cottage industry or transformational
partnerships? Paper presented at the GIHE/IPON Symposium on Work-Integrated Learning, Griffith University,
Australia.
The term, professional skills, is used in this Toolkit to refer to the skills necessary for
graduates to succeed in professional practice. They include the “generic,” or “transferable”
skills listed in Griffith University’s Griffith Graduate Statement, and also include the attributes
of self-motivation; self-confidence; self-management; self-promotion; as well as the ability
to understand ethical conduct; meet deadlines; be punctual; get on well with others in the
organisation and clients; and show initiative.
Professionalism means having the skills and qualities that characterise a practising
professional. It develops over time, and in the context of professional practice. Work
experience, work placement and other forms of work-integrated learning at university can
help students develop those skills in a professional context and make for a smoother
transition to the world of employment.
Work-integrated learning is used in this Toolkit to refer to the numerous forms of
workplace learning, such as practicum, field placement, work placement, industry project,
sandwich courses, etc., that students undertake while studying.
Research shows that students who experience work-integrated learning appreciate the
relevance of their study and are more motivated to complete their degree programs than
those who don’t; and that they develop a stronger professional and vocational identity
more quickly. As well, they are better placed to consolidate the skills and knowledge
learned at university through practice.
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Why your students need professional skills
Definitions
PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
The need for professional skills
“New graduates entering today’s workplace face a number of challenges, especially how to learn and
function in unfamiliar and unpredictable situations. Multi-skilled, multi-national project teams,
requiring collaboration, cooperation, flexibility and inter-cultural awareness, demand high levels of
professional and interpersonal skills. Graduates must be able to service their own administrative
needs and are routinely required to work longer hours than their predecessors.”
Harvey, L. (1999). New realities: The relationship between higher education and employment. Retrieved from the World
Wide Web on 17 September, 2001: http://www.uce.ac.uk/crq/publications/cp/eair99.html
Employers and graduates recognise the importance of well-developed professional skills
for early and subsequent career advancement. The table below summarises the needs of
today’s workplace and is based on the work of Lee Harvey in the United Kingdom (1999).
Why your students need professional skills
Characteristics of today’s workplace
Workplace challenges
Understanding that the world of work is unpredictable, and
requires a wide range of skills for an individual to function
effectively.
Teamwork
Group and interpersonal skills are essential when dealing
with the collaboration required in multi-skilled, culturally
diverse team situations.
Changing nature of work
Today’s workplace requires employees to be multi-skilled;
perform their own administrative tasks; and be aware of
modern technological changes associated with their
profession.
Job (in)security
Employees no longer expect to stay in one job for an
extended time. Careers can be built across a range of
diverse employment positions.
Broader expertise
The workplace involves the demonstration and application
of professional skills, which go beyond the normal
university requirements for written assessment and exams.
Transferability of skills
The more environments in which students exercise their
professional skills, the more able they are to transfer
learning from one learning context to another.
Communication.
Teamwork.
Interpersonal skills.
Intellect.
Disciplinary knowledge.
Willingness and ability to continue learning.
Ability to find things out.
Willingness to take risks and show initiative.
Flexibility and adaptability.
Ability to pre-empt and ultimately lead change.
Self-motivation.
Self-confidence.
Self-management.
Self-promotion.
Interactive attributes
Personal attributes
Self skills
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PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
What employers, graduates and
students say about professional skills
Employers’ comments
"We find that skills, knowledge and attitude are important for being successful in your work, and at
times attitude overrides everything because with the correct attitude people can go out and apply
themselves and achieve the knowledge and skills required to be successful." (Employer of Griffith
Graduates, 2001)
"The new graduate would generally work with somebody else, so they get to learn from that other
person how to do things. They are also introduced to our organisation, how we work, why we do
things in a certain way, and I think that is really valuable for students to get that kind of experience.
The other thing we stress is that it is always going to be different from workplace to workplace and
you need to understand that. You have to interact with other people and one person might not
always have something ready for you on time, when you wanted it, and you might need to negotiate
with different people and reassess your deadlines in order to get completed on time." (Employer of
Griffith Graduates, 2002)
“We generally like to see prospective employees perform outside of a formal interviewing process as
well, so that we can see them in a work situation - this will tell us as much as the interview itself.”
(Employer of Griffith Graduates, 2002).
“Employers do not ask new graduates to mortgage their souls and operate on the principle of blind
obedience, but they do ask new recruits to adopt fundamental beliefs and values perceived to be
necessary for success. The culture in an organization is vastly different from that on campus and
must be thoroughly understood by new graduates or they will be doomed to fail.”
Phillips, J. (1987). Recruiting, Training and Retraining New Employees. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Graduates’ comments
“Work placement gave me a specific understanding of industry expectations, as well as confidence.”
(Griffith Graduate, 2001)
“In my first job out of university, I was all excited about putting my skills into place, but, you know,
the employer tends to put the stop on you a bit because they don’t feel that you are ready yet, or you
need a bit more experience before you go through with it.” (Griffith Graduate, 2001)
Students’ comments
“Work placement takes your skills off the bench and onto the playing field.” (Griffith Student, 2003)
“I’m better equipped to move into the professional workforce as a result of work placement.”
(Griffith Student, 2004)
“If you have learnt nothing or found nothing challenging over the last few years of your degree, you
will be in for a real treat doing work placement, as it will challenge you mentally and provide you
with one of the greatest learning experiences of your life.” (Griffith Student, 2004)
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Employers, graduates and students
“Work placement helped me to develop confidence in individual work; helped me to understand
work relationships and roles.” (Griffith Graduate, 2001)
PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
Research shows:
“…while the social and economic world has been transformed in recent years, the demands made of
graduates by employers still largely revolve around age-old concerns of the ability to learn new
material and to apply it to workplace scenarios.”
Hesketh, A.J. (2000). Recruiting an elite? Employers’ perceptions of graduate education and training. Journal of
Education and Work, 13(3), p. 268.
“In essence, employers expect a degree to provide a profound, broad education rather than attempt
to train someone for a specific job. In some cases, particular knowledge and understanding of a
subject area is a bonus, as are specific technical skills. An understanding of the world of work, some
commercial awareness, some appreciation of work culture and the ability to work in teams,
communicate well and exhibit confidence (but not arrogance) in interpersonal relations is a
considerable enhancement.”
Harvey, L., Moon, S., & Geall, V. (1997). Graduates’ Work: Organisational Change and Students’ Attributes.
Retrieved from the World Wide Web on 17 May, 2002:
http://www.uce.ac.uk/crq/publications/gw/index.html
Employers, graduates and students
The Business Council of Australia and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
identified a number of elements of learning skills that are valued by employers, namely:
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managing own learning;
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contributing to the learning community at the workplace;
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using a range of mediums to learn – mentoring, peer support, networking, IT, courses;
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applying learning to technical issues (e.g., learning about products) and people issues (e.g.,
interpersonal and cultural aspects of work);
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having enthusiasm for ongoing learning;
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being willing to learn in any setting – on and off the job;
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being open to new ideas and techniques;
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being prepared to invest time and effort in learning new skills; and
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acknowledging the need to learn in order to accommodate change.
Business Council of Australia and Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. (2002). Employability Skills
for the Future. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on 24 June, 2002:
http://www.dest.gov.au/ty/publications/employability_skills/final_report.pdf
“The extent to which the [higher education] context and the first or subsequent job contexts
are similar is also likely to have a profound effect on whether transfer occurs. The greater the
difference in terms of task, people and expectations, the lower the likelihood of transfer.”
Atkins, M.J. (1999). Oven-ready and self-basting: Taking stock of employability skills. Teaching in Higher
Education, 4(2), p. 275.
“In contrast to the more academic areas of the educational program, goals for the practicum are
more likely to emphasise attitudinal changes than acquisition of knowledge or technical skills.”
Toohey, S., Ryan, G., & Hughes, C. (1996). Assessing the practicum. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher
Education, 21(3), p. 216.
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PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
Teaching tips—How to develop your
students’ professional skills through
work-integrated learning
What is work-integrated learning?
Work-integrated learning is the general term given to learning that occurs through
undertaking a component of industry/professional practical experience during a degree
program. It is usually unpaid, but formal credit is often awarded for assessment.
Work-integrated learning can include work experience, internships, guided industry
projects, clinical placements, mentoring and/or a combination of these workplace-oriented
activities, as well as “sandwich” courses where students spend an extended period of time
working in industry or the professions between periods of study. These activities are
usually conducted under guidance from academic staff and a workplace supervisor from
the participating organisation. Work-integrated learning activities can either be part of a
specific course of study/discipline and graded as part of a student's normal study, or can be
an ungraded part of an individual student's efforts to gain workplace experience while still
in university.
Currently around 60 - 70% of all undergraduate programs at Griffith include a component
of work-integrated learning in one or more courses. These include a variety of studentassisted activities suitable for a diverse range of interests. The Office of Community
Partnerships has developed a web portal to manage the interface between the University
and employers/community in negotiating work placements.
How does work-integrated learning develop students’
professional skills?
When students undertake work placement or internship, they have to adapt to the culture
of the employing organisation. They need to:
Be punctual;
Be reliable;
Be responsible;
Be well-groomed and neatly dressed;
Be able to listen and follow instructions;
Meet deadlines;
Juggle work and study;
Convey information accurately;
Work collaboratively;
Work independently;
Show initiative;
Be able to manage themselves, priorities, and time; and
Get on with other staff members and clients.
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Teaching tips
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PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
Some models of work-integrated learning
Model
Characteristics
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Work placement
(This term is sometimes
used more broadly to
refer to some of the
models described
below).
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Work
experience/Vacation
work
Practicum
Clinical placement
Internship
Sandwich course
Co-operative
education
Teaching tips
Industry project
Cadetship/
Traineeship
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A three-way relationship between the student, the university and an organisation, where
the organisation places a student in industry during the degree program (paid and/or
unpaid) to:
Develop links between theory and practice;
Experience life within an organisation outside the university;
Develop professional competencies;
Undertake a specific task or project;
Contribute specialist or generalist skills to the organisation’s day-to-day operations;
Gain knowledge of workplace practice by shadowing/observing senior staff members
within the organisation;
Include a mentor/supervisor.
Learning Outcomes: Usually negotiated by the student with the academic/industry
supervisors.
Assessment: The whole work placement or a component may be assessed.
Paid or unpaid extra-curricular work;
Usually takes place in industry or profession related to student’s program but may relate
to student’s part-time work, which is not related to their program;
Helps student to develop skills which will assist employability;
May be requirement of some professional degrees.
Learning Outcomes: Not generally defined.
Assessment: Usually not formally assessed.
Paid or unpaid work placement;
Students learn professional skills and knowledge;
Specific time period.
Learning Outcomes: General expectations of some learning outcomes.
Assessment: Usually assessed in a formal or informal manner.
Usually unpaid placement in health and veterinary science disciplines;
One-to-one or team supervision by qualified professional;
Based on student using professional skills;
Highly structured program.
Learning Outcomes: Specific learning outcomes required.
Assessment: Usually formally assessed.
Paid work placement;
Usually one year in length;
Student is a full employee of the organisation.
Learning Outcomes: Usually not tightly specified.
Assessment: Not usually assessed, but a report may contribute to credit points towards
the degree program.
Paid work placements;
Additional time in industry, which adds to length of degree program;
May be continuous block of work placement, e.g., 12 months;
May be series of shorter placements, i.e., 4 months per year for duration of degree
program.
Learning Outcomes: May be no specific learning outcomes defined.
Assessment: May or may not be assessed.
Usually paid work placements;
Usually more than one placement during student’s degree program;
May be based on specific project or more general work experience.
Learning Outcomes: Usually well defined.
Assessment: Usually assessed, especially if project-based.
Usually unpaid;
Usually short-term;
Based on achieving outcomes for a specific project;
May be individual student or student team;
May be done at organisation’s work place, or done at university.
Learning Outcomes: Well defined.
Assessment: Formally assessed.
Paid placement;
Employing organisation offers cadetship/traineeship on competitive basis to students;
Student given time release to attend lectures.
Learning Outcomes: Not defined.
Assessment: Not assessed by university.
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PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
Things to consider when introducing work-integrated learning
How work-integrated learning (WIL) fits with the degree program
What are the intended graduate outcomes from this degree program?
How does WIL contribute to these outcomes?
Which type of WIL lends itself to this degree program?
How many students will require WIL opportunities? Will it be compulsory for a cohort, or
competitive for the best students?
Student outcomes
What guidelines and resources do students need? Are the learning outcomes loosely or tightly
defined?
What supervision/mentoring will be provided for students?
What academic supervision will students need in the field?
How will students be assessed? Will the traditional methods be appropriate?
Is the placement to be seen as a “test” of students’ existing knowledge, or are they encouraged to
use it as a learning experience for new knowledge and a refresher for previous learning?
Administration of WIL
How can the School/Department resource the management of placements and supervision for
students? Who funds student travel?
Who will be responsible for developing relationships and partnerships with industry?
Who will coordinate the WIL placements?
Are students responsible for finding their WIL placement, or will the School/Department
assist/find placements?
The best WIL timing
Should students have a “chunk” of WIL in the final year?
Should students have multiple opportunities during the degree program for WIL components?
Should these components be stand-alone, or build incrementally throughout the degree program?
Relationships with industry partners
What guidelines and resources will organisations need?
What resources do you have to build and maintain industry relationships?
How will you build an industry database of possible placement opportunities?
Ideas to use in work-integrated learning
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Provide industry partners with certificates and gifts to recognise their participation.
Establish regular communication between the university and students on placement
through regular email newsletters or web portal.
Provide training prior to placement, such as first aid training, conflict negotiation,
and discipline-specific workshops.
Ensure students are aware of the ethical dimensions of the profession they will work
with.
Provide assistance during the placements to refresh students’ knowledge base on
specific topics or to provide specific new knowledge related to the placements.
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Teaching tips
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PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
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If students are working in remote, interstate or overseas placements, set up a buddy
system so they don’t miss out on information that students closer to the University
receive.
Ensure that industry supervisors are aware of their responsibilities to the students
and are also aware of the assessment requirements of students.
Invite industry partners to sponsor student awards related to placement
performance.
Ask students who have completed their component of work-integrated learning to
break into groups and discuss their experiences to identify the skills they learned and
the attributes they developed as a result.
Ask them to compare theoretical perspectives on work-integrated learning from
selected readings with the reality of their experiences.
Issues in work-integrated learning
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Growing numbers of students mean increased numbers of WIL placements need to
be found.
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WIL placements require dedicated staff, and preferably the involvement of all staff
in supervision.
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WIL supervision and management are not seen as prestigious, and are difficult to
incorporate in many performance appraisals.
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Many staff are uncomfortable dealing with industry.
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While on placement, students may have difficulties accommodating their normal
part-time employment and academic work.
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Some industry areas do not have a concept of supporting WIL experiences, though
they would like to benefit from the learning outcomes in their graduate employees.
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Who will handle the issues that arise while students are on placement?
Maximising learning outcomes through reflection
Students learn a lot about their own professional skills development when they are required
to reflect on what they have learned and how they have learned it.
Coordinators of WIL agree that formal debriefing sessions, where students think deeply
about the meaning of their experiences, coupled with assessable reflective documents,
greatly enhance students’ awareness of and confidence in their own professional skills,
including their confidence in transferring those skills to employment following graduation.
Donald Schön (1983) suggested that the capacity to reflect on action so as to engage in a
process of continuous learning was one of the defining characteristics of professional
practice. Requiring students to reflect intentionally on their learning experiences is an
important starting point in the development of professional practice skills.
Teaching tips
“Double loop learning”
This term describes the duplication of stages in the reflective cycle to ensure maximum learning
outcomes: e.g., briefing; workplace experience; plan and design briefing; reflect on practice; evaluate
outcomes; undertake action planning; briefing; workplace experience; plan and design briefing;
reflect on practice; evaluate outcomes; action planning.
Argyris, C. (1990). Overcoming Organizational Defences: Facilitating Organizational Learning. Boston: Alyn &
Bacon.
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PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
Setting up learning contracts before the work-integrated
learning experience
Introduce students to the notion of reflective practice by ensuring they know what they
expect to learn during the experience. Have the student negotiate and document their
expected learning outcomes prior to their placement. A learning contract should include:
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Reference to the professional skills to be developed;
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Specific discipline-specific knowledge to be acquired;
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An expectation of increased awareness of the tasks carried out by professionals in
the placement;
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Details of a specific project with defined requirements;
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A list of resources the student will need (human and other) to ensure the learning is
achieved;
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Dates at which student is held accountable for documents or presentations which
report on their progress on placement; and
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Conflict negotiation processes in the case of breakdowns in interpersonal
relationships in the work placement.
Reflective journals or learning documents
Encourage students to develop a professional portfolio, log book or reflective journal on
what, and how they learned in the workplace.
Ask them to submit it as part of their assessment, or write a debrief report based on their
journal.
Students’ work experience portfolios fulfil two valuable purposes:
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They capture analytical reflections on the meaning of their experiences;
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They substantiate their claims of skill development in job applications and
interviews.
More importantly, they give students practice in “signposting” their learning by
documenting critical incidents, or “Ah, ha!” moments in their learning.
Some questions to help students structure their writing might include:
How does what I am learning in the organisation relate to what I already know from
my study program?
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What are the main differences and why should there be differences?
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What aspects of my learning do I need to change in order to adapt to this new
context?
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What are the most important things I have learned about being a professional in this
discipline area?
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Teaching tips
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PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
Assessing students’ professional skills
What are you assessing in work-integrated learning?
The key to designing assessment tasks for work-integrated learning is to identify learning
outcomes that will meet the expectations of the University, the employer and ultimately the
student.
Knowledge or process?
Process or product?
The way the student manages the placement
requirements, or the outputs expected from the
placement such as a report, product, etc.
Theory or practice?
How the student applies learned theory to
practice, or how practice leads to development
of new knowledge.
Skills or knowledge?
The application of existing knowledge to new
and novel problems, or the output of
knowledge in a defined way.
Individual or group contribution, or a
mixture of both?
Individual outputs, or shared outputs from a
group process. Will assessment include
evaluation of the group processes involved in
the placement?
Assessing students’ professional skills
Standards
Academic or industry/professional
standards, or both?
How can industry standards be incorporated
with academic standards for assessment which
is valid in both arenas?
Measurement of student’s professional
values or ethics?
Is there an expectation that students will
recognise and report on the professional values
and ethics involved in their placement?
Evaluation of student’s professional
behaviour?
Should the student’s work ethic (commitment,
being on time, meeting deadlines, working
collaboratively and independently, etc.) be
assessed, and by whom?
Three major issues in assessing work-integrated learning
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Is it possible to offer learning opportunities for all students so that outcomes can be
compared?
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Do the non-standard assessment items appropriate for work-integrated learning fit in a
traditional degree program?
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Can these non-standard assessment items say anything meaningful about the student’s
achievement?
Adapted from: Toohey, S., Ryan, G., & Hughes, C. (1996). Assessing the practicum.
Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 21(3), 215-227.
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PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
Different models for assessing students’ professional skills
Which model will you use?
The attendance model?
Work placement seen as: an optional
extra to traditional curriculum; an
opportunity for networking/job
prospects.
The work history model?
Emphasis is on documentation and
completion of tasks. Students are
required to document/reflect on
significant tasks undertaken in
workplace. There is little structure in
the learning process.
The broad abilities model?
A more integrated model in which the
abilities/generic skills such as critical
thinking, teamwork, etc. are specified
as learning goals.
The specific competencies model?
Key roles and tasks expected of
practitioners are identified, so students
can experience the full range.
Assessment
No formal assessment; or else Pass/Fail grading, where
“Satisfactory Completion” = “Satisfactory Attendance”
in the workplace.
Student’s log book or journal is sighted and certified by
academic supervisor.
Student’s performance in workplace is observed by
academic supervisor.
Comparative grading of students’ achievements is
possible.
Students are required to submit reflective reports relating
theory to practice, and analyse and reflect on the meaning
of their workplace experiences.
Students are required to demonstrate competence on all
or some of the tasks/roles.
Graded or non-graded assessment.
Mix of observed performance in workplace and formal
paper/oral examination.
Criteria and learning outcomes are mutually agreed.
Uses learning contracts between
student and workplace supervisor;
placement is seen as a learning
experience.
Time consuming for academics; beneficial for students.
Adapted from: Toohey, S., Ryan, G., & Hughes, C. (1996). Assessing the practicum. Assessment and Evaluation
in Higher Education, 21(3), 215-227.
Use assessment which demands exploration and insight
“Many of the problems surrounding assessment of the practicum arise out of an inability to
reconcile traditional assessment practices with the kinds of learning outcomes that might be
expected from the practicum. University education has usually favoured knowledge-based
assessment and assessment methods which enable comparison and ranking of students.
Ideally, the practicum offers students the opportunity to apply knowledge, test theory and
consequently modify their understanding. Insights and understandings of this nature may be
difficult for students to express and certainly do not lend themselves to simplistic assessment.
Assessment methods such as journals, analytical papers and oral examinations which allow
for exploration and insight are the methods most demanding of students and assessors.”
Toohey, S., Ryan, G., & Hughes, C. (1996). Assessing the practicum. Assessment and Evaluation in
Higher Education, 21(3), p. 216.
15
Assessing students’ professional skills
The negotiated curriculum model?
PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
Graduate outcomes at the heart of placement assessment
The University of South Australia has developed an instrument for assessing Student Work
in Professional Experience (SWIPE). Students doing work placement use it to relate their
practical experience to the University’s seven graduate qualities, especially those considered
essential to the role of a professional within their discipline.

Placement objectives are written in terms of the graduate qualities so that they
become part of the way the student thinks about the work placement.

This ensures that students “stretch” their thinking process by linking their practice
experience to the seven qualities.

It incorporates elements that are both analytical and action oriented.

It provides students and supervisors with a framework for assessing their practice.

It gives supervisors the opportunity to provide detailed feedback on theory, problem
solving, communication skills, team functioning, cultural awareness, ethical actions
and lifelong learning.

Students use a document template to record their learning and skills development in
critical events during their placement, and analyse them reflectively in relation to
each of the University’s seven graduate qualities;

This document must be validated by the student’s supervisor. It then becomes the
basis of the student’s job application or preparation for an interview.
Adapted from: Munn, P., & Hudson, C. (2004). The integration of the graduate qualities in clinical placements.
For further information contact:
Assessing students’ professional skills
Associate Professor Peter Munn
The University of South Australia
Whyalla Campus
Email: [email protected]
Ideas for work placement assessment
Academic report:
Include description of the organisation and where student’s work fits; discussion of the
work achieved or observed by the student; student’s own evaluation of their professional
growth on placement. A report may, or may not include a reflective journal/log book.
Professional report :
Design an assessment task that requires students to prepare and present professional
advice on a particular project (e.g., construction of a bridge), in the context of a public
forum. Their advice should address particular aspects of the project (e.g., the kinds of
issues likely to arise; the data to be collected and analysed; and the team that would be
needed).
Oral presentation:
Students can report on their experience on placement in a variety of styles. The usual
10-minute tutorial presentation style does give students some experience in oral
presentations, but consider putting together groups of students who have to plan and
execute a small conference on their return from placement, with Powerpoint presentations,
chairperson, questions from the floor, etc.
16
PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
Academic supervisors’ report:
Provide academic supervisors with criteria against which to match students’ professional
skills development. Make the criteria explicit and consider interim reports as formative
assessment, in addition to summative reports, at the end of the placement.
Organisation supervisors’ report:
Employers especially appreciate firm criteria against which to measure students’
performance. Consider an interim report so student has a chance to improve performance
before the end of placement.
Poster presentation:
Students can prepare poster presentations showing the highlights of their placement.
These posters can be a source of inspiration to students who have not yet experienced
placement.
Log book:
Can include summaries of the week’s activities, how the student thinks about the
placement in relation to their career goals, the student’s contribution to the placement
organisation, and reflection on growth of professional and other skills.
Analysis of professional skills:
Ask students to access the resources pyramid on the Griffith Graduate web site:
http://www.gu.edu.au/centre/gihe/griffith_graduate, and select some of the graduate
skills relevant to their work placement experience. They should research these skills by
drawing on the web resources provided in the pyramid, and accessing other web and print
materials. In a written assignment, ask them to analyse how development of these skills
will help them in their future roles as practising professionals. They should include
relevant examples (from the research literature, the media, job advertisements, video clips,
interviews with professionals, etc.). Their assignments should be written using the
appropriate format for journals in their disciplines.
Adapted from: Communications Technology and Society (MEE2002) course outline: Course Convenor: Ms
Carol-joy Patrick, School of Microelectronic Engineering, Griffith University.

The academic supervisor?

The workplace supervisor?
What level of assessment is required from the student’s organisational supervisor
and how comfortable are they with assessing the student?

A mix of the two?
Many work-integrated learning programs have found the best way to assess student
performance and achievement in the field is to involve both the workplace
supervisor and the academic supervisor, sometimes including a component of selfand/or peer-assessment. The academic supervisor can make judgements during
regular workplace visits and set specific academic assignments; the workplace
supervisor can make judgements on task performance and workplace interactions;
the student can self-assess in reflective logs or journals; and peers can give critical
feedback in group presentations.

Students themselves? and/or

Their peers?
Are students required to provide a reflective assessment on themselves or their
peers? What guidelines are they given to help them do this effectively?
17
Assessing students’ professional skills
Who should assess students’ professional skills?
PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
Research carried out in the Griffith Graduate Project (Stages 4 and 5), found that
employers of Griffith students on work placement felt it was not their role to give marks or
grades for students’ performance or achievements while in their organisations. They were
concerned about reliability and consistency between supervisors, and about the standards
they should use when assessing.
On the other hand, they were very committed to providing formative feedback during the
placement, and, if necessary, to having the student complete a second placement if they
were considered unsatisfactory.
Employers speak about assessment
“…I don’t feel that it is my job to fail someone academically. If he or she turned up and did
the work, the University needs to make the decision whether or not that person passes or
fails. I think it would be very difficult if you got industry to mark students. Students are
terribly concerned whether they get a GPA of 6.73 or 6.4 and if I get in there and go ’You
get zero for me, therefore you get a 5.9,’ I just don’t think it is right…”
(Employer of Griffith Graduates and work placement students, 2002.)
“Sometimes you have got to be able to do that thing which is so hard to do…I certainly
found it harder to do the first time…and that is to actually fail someone. It is not easy to do.
Suddenly you find yourself turning pages looking for something, anything, to add to the
mark.”
(Employer of Griffith Graduates and work placement students, 2002.)
Assessing students’ professional skills
“We had a student who was clearly incompetent and we recognised that fairly early on, and
we tried to help them grow, which took a fair amount of time, but we were committed to
trying to make the placement work. When we had to complete the assessment, we sat down
with this person, saying ‘You really need to develop these things.’ They didn’t feel that they
needed to, and so we then had to take that to the lecturer and say, ‘Look, this person hasn’t
taken on board our comments and we don’t feel comfortable saying that they’re good to
work with in the industry.’ They needed to develop some more skills and we felt that was the
fair thing to do. But I don’t want to pass or fail these people.”
(Employer of Griffith Graduates and work placement students, 2002.)
18
PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
Principles of effective professional skills
Students’ professional skills

Develop over time;

Relate to student’s attitude to and engagement with the world of work;

Include more than generic, or graduate skills – they include:
o
Developing an awareness of workplace culture;
o
Punctuality;
o
Responsibility;
o
Getting on with other staff members and clients; and
o
Flexibility and adaptability.
Work-integrated learning (WIL) can play a major role in the development of
professional skills by:

Allowing the student to develop skills in a professional, rather than university
context;
Developing awareness of workplace culture;
Enabling students to see the relevance of theoretical concepts in practice.


WIL models include:
Work experience/vacation work;
Practicum;
Clinical placement;
Internship;
Sandwich course;
Co-operative education;
Industry project;
Cadetship/Traineeship.
What do WIL coordinators need to consider?





How WIL fits with the degree program;
The best timing for WIL experiences;
How WIL is to be administered and supported in the school/department;
Relationships with industry partners/employers;
Student outcomes.
Assessment of professional skills through WIL




What is being assessed? Theory or practice? Academic or industry standards?
Who is involved in the assessment? Academics, employers, students?
Will normal academic assessment be used or will assessment be tailored to the
professional context?
Are explicit criteria for assessment provided to students, the employer and the
university so they know what is expected in terms of professional skills development?
19
Principles of effective professional skills








PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
Where to go for help
Contacts
Dr Alf Lizzio and Dr Keithia Wilson
Professional Capability Project
School of Applied Psychology – Health
Mt Gravatt Campus
Ph. (07) 3875 3388 or (07) 3875 5339
Email: [email protected]; [email protected]
Mr Ken Bennett
Director, Small Enterprise Export Centre
Department of International Business and Asian Studies
Nathan Campus
Ph. (07) 3875 7922
Email: [email protected]
Dr Lorelei Carpenter
Coordinator, Professional Studies
School of Education and Professional Studies
Gold Coast Campus
Ph. 5552 8857
Email: [email protected]
Ms Carol-joy Patrick
Manager, Industrial Affiliates Program
School of Microelectronic Engineering
Nathan Campus
Ph. (07) 3875 5007
Email: [email protected]u.au
Where to go for help
Mr Jim Nyland
Principal Advisor, Community Partnerships
Equity and Community Partnerships
Logan Campus
Ph. (07) 3382 1149j
Email: [email protected]
Mr Tony Lyons
Head, Careers and Employment
Student Services
Nathan Campus
Ph. (07) 3875 5360
Email: [email protected]
Mr Barry Bell
Lecturer
Department of Tourism, Leisure, Sport and Hotel Management
Mt Gravatt Campus
Ph. (07) 3875 5615
Email: [email protected]
20
PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
Mr Corey Sparks
Student and Industry Liaison Officer
Department of Tourism, Leisure, Sport and Hotel Management
Mt Gravatt Campus
Ph. (07) 3875 5804
Email: [email protected]
Mr Gordon Dean
Industry Practicum Coordinator – Adjunct Lecturer
Department of Tourism, Leisure, Sport and Hotel Management
Gold Coast Campus
Ph. (07) 5552 8078
Email: [email protected]
Ms Fazila Essack
Industry Liaison Officer
Department of Tourism, Leisure, Sport and Hotel Management
Gold Coast Campus
Ph. (07) 5552 8337
Email: [email protected]
Dr David Bromwich
Senior Lecturer
School of Environmental Engineering
Nathan Campus
Ph. (07) 3875 8337
Email: [email protected]
Ms Merrelyn Bates
Lecturer and Field Placements Coordinator
School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Mt Gravatt Campus
Ph. (07) 3875 5820
Email: [email protected]
The Office of Community Partnerships
Professional Capabilities Program (PCP)
Drs Alf Lizzio and Keithia Wilson of the School of Psychology – Health, Griffith
University, have developed the Professional Capabilities Program, a series of exercises
which link students with their future profession.
This program develops professional capabilities in students appropriate to their year of
study and their eventual role as professional psychologists.
21
Where to go for help
The University is committed to substantially enhancing work-integrated learning as an
integral priority of the Academic Plan. The highly successful workplace learning programs
of the University have been achieved by elements with dedicated staff on the ground,
working directly with the industries, academic staff and students. It is expected that
Griffith will build on this model through expert staff based in elements, linked with the
workplaces concerned and with the staff. The Office of Community Partnerships has
already formed an alliance with the major work-integrated learning practitioners in the
University and has begun supporting preliminary work on best practice.
PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
“In its design, PCP models the kinds of collaborative approaches to learning which it
inculcates in participants. Partnerships between the School, central support services and
external agencies through which PCP is delivered mirror the kinds of partnerships graduates
will need to develop and maintain to deliver services in their own working lives.
Furthermore, exposure to professionals employed by these areas further extends the vision of
how students’ own specialist interests might be applied in their future careers. The peer
mentoring aspect of PCP offers avenues for learning about both what it means to seek
guidance from experienced practitioners (in this case successful students), and to share
experience with others coming through the ranks – again evoking the ethos of practising
psychology professionals.”
Extract from Submission to Australian Awards for University Teaching, 2003: Professional Capability Program. Dr K.
Wilson & Dr A. Lizzio, School of Applied Psychology – Health, Griffith University.
CareerBoard
Student work experience opportunities, graduate programs (final year students) and
graduate vacancies are listed on Griffith’s CareerBoard. This web facility also hosts
employment information including links to key national and international career resources.
To access CareerBoard, use your Enable username and password and register as if a
Griffith student in a program (takes about 5 minutes). After registering, you can access
CareerBoard without delay and at any time. Find CareerBoard at:
http://www.griffith.edu.au//ua/aa/ss/careers/
Start in First Year
This one-hour seminar presented by staff of the Careers and Employment Service,
Student Services is conducted within the first year lecture schedule of academic
programs. The seminar supports students’ early engagement with their careers by
demonstrating how evidence for skills employers seek in graduates can be developed
inside and outside their degree from first year. Staff are welcome to review the program
booklet and PowerPoint presentation prior to implementing the seminar. The seminar
was offered for 2,500 students in Semester 1, 2004 and 98% indicated that they thought
the information was important for first year students.
Contact Natalie Moses [email protected] or visit
http://www.griffith.edu.au//ua/aa/ss/careers/
Where to go for help
Workplace Contact List
People in the workplace in a wide range of professional fields have agreed to be available as
contacts for Griffith students. Students and graduates may use people on the list
administered by the Careers and Employment Service for career, employment and
organisational information, work experience or as contacts for referrals elsewhere.
Information on contacts is listed at http://www.griffith.edu.au//ua/aa/ss/careers/
Job Search and Career Development Seminars
Staff of the Careers and Employment Service, Student Services present seminars on a wide
range of job search and career development topics. Seminars are conducted centrally and as
part of academic programs. Some schools incorporate seminars into preparation for or
debriefing after work-integrated learning.
22
PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
For more information contact:
Tony Lyons:[email protected]
or visit http://www.griffith.edu.au//ua/aa/ss/careers/
On-Line Career Development Program
This program, currently being developed, will be available in 2005. The Program features
on-line materials for career self-awareness, career development and all aspects of job
searching including resources and strategies. The program aims to be informative and
interactive and includes components for undergraduates, postgraduates and teaching staff.
For more information contact
Tony Lyons:[email protected]
or visit http://www.griffith.edu.au//ua/aa/ss/careers/
Griffith University Mentoring Program
The Griffith University Mentoring Program, coordinated by staff of the Careers and
Employment Service, Student Services is conducted in Semester 2 each year at the Gold
Coast and in Brisbane. Two hundred final year students are matched with experienced
workplace mentors and, by mutual agreement, undertake work-related activities which may
include discussion, work-shadowing, attending professional meetings and events, project
work and work experience. The Program is also important in expanding University
contacts with government and business and the breakfast launch at a city venue provides
an opportunity for academic staff to meet with people in their professional field.
For further information, contact:
Ms Dina Fyffe
Career Development Officer and Coordinator, Mentoring Program
Student Services
Nathan Campus
Ph. (07) 3875 5360
Email: [email protected]
Work Experience for Indigenous Students
The Careers and Employment Service, Student Services finds paid work experience
placements for indigenous students as part of the National Indigenous Cadetship Program
(NICP).
Contact Jenny O’Neill: [email protected]
or visit http://www.griffith.edu.au//ua/aa/ss/careers/
23
Where to go for help
Students are placed with employers who provide 12 week’s of paid work experience
annually and consider students for graduate employment on completion of their studies.
PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
Additional resources
Print resources
Bennett, N., Dunne, E., & Carré, C. (2000). Skills Development in Higher Education and
Employment. Buckingham: SRHE & Open University Press.
Billett, S. (2001). Learning in the Workplace: Strategies for Effective Practice. Crow’s Nest: Allen &
Unwin.
Blackwell, A., Bowes, L., Harvey, L., Hesketh, A.J., & Knight, P.T. (2001). Transforming
work experience in higher education. British Educational Research Journal, 27, 269-285.
Schön, D.A. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. New York:
Basic Books.
Schön, D.A. (1987). Educating the Reflective Practitioner: Toward a New Design for Teaching and
Learning in the Professions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Web resources
Work-Integrated Learning
http://www.flinders.edu.au/teach/teach/work.htm
Work Integrated Learning
http://acclaw.bf.rmit.edu.au/wil/
Industry and Education: A Working Partnership
http://www.swin.edu.au/corporate/ili/
Value Added Career Start
http://www.vacs.uq.edu.au/index.html
Co-operative Education and Career Services
http://www.cecs.uwaterloo.ca/
Additional resources
Johnson, E., Herd, S., Tisdall, J. (2002). Encouraging generic skills in science courses.
Electronic Journal of Biotechnology.
http://www.ejbiotechnology.info/content/vol5/issue2/teaching/02/
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