How can universities design assessment and credentials to produce work-ready graduates?

Establishing credentials for students has emerged as a critical way to ensure graduates are work-ready once they finish university. But it’s far easier said than done, especially in light of major changes in pedagogy and student expectations.

How can universities align the approach to building credentials with students’ needs and ensuring employability at the same time?

Ahead of Innovation in Assessment & Credentials 2016, James Arvanitakis, Dean, Graduate Research School Western Sydney University, discusses what factors need to be addressed to establish credentials that are effective and have real value in the student experience.

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James Arvanitakis, Dean, Graduate Research School, Western Sydney University

Essentially everything we do should be building up a broad range of employability skills for the students. Universities are really good at producing knowledge and delivering content.

That’s a disciplinary knowledge that we have, and what we need to do is continue doing that to ensure the highest level of scholarship is maintained and attained by the students. That is never negotiable.

But there’s a second dimension, which historically universities haven’t done very well, and that’s related to incorporating a broad range of attributes that students need to develop for proficiencies.

These include learning how to work across cultures, working with teams, knowledge translation, having a sense of agency, and being able to appreciate design and aesthetics, for example.

All of these attributes are important, but it’s the flip side of the coin that universities have struggled with.

And when I developed the Academy program at Western Sydney University, or now that I oversee the Graduate Research School, developing these attributes along with academic excellence are my twin goals.

It goes not only through the curriculum, but through all the investments as well. Within the blended learning environment, it requires very specific strategies in comparison to what you would do face to face, but it doesn’t change the broader philosophy about what you would expect from your students.

For example, with knowledge translation in a blended learning environment, you work with the students to develop public blogs or develop more online resources, and you require your students to work in teams and master online project management software.

The focus should be on assessing how they communicate across those teams, rather than what we usually do, which is what they are doing. You assess the process, not just the outcomes.

James Arvanitakis kindly shared insight into the development of student credentials for the upcoming Innovation in Assessment & Credentials Summit in October. In the article he goes on to explore the approach for building up a broad range of employability skills for students, and incorporating a range of attributes that students need to develop for proficiencies.  Check out the full article to learn more about removing silos and moving towards cross-disciplinary skills.

And if you’d like to know more about the Innovation in Assessment & Credentials Summit, please download the brochure or visit http://www.assessmentandcredentials.com.au.

James will deliver a presentation on educating students in a time of disruption: Becoming innovative and creating an internal shift to drive the future of universities.

 

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