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CETL Report

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CETL ReportCETL,cetl

Enhancing student

    employability &

    entrepreneurship through the environmental and natural sciences

    Pete Watton and Jason B. Truscott

    November 2006

    The Higher Education Funding Council for England has awarded the University of Plymouth a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) in Experiential Learning (EL). The award arises from our existing excellence in this „hands-on‟

    approach to learning - particularly in fieldwork, laboratory work, and work-based learning - in Geography, Geology & Earth Sciences, Biology and Environmental Science. The CETL will operate from 2005-2010. Its funding in this period includes ?500k per annum and a one-off payment of ?2m to fund capital developments. The main focus of the CETL‟s work is enhancing the student experience of fieldwork, laboratory work and work based learning.

Date: November 2006 This report concentrates on the

    employability and the entrepreneurship

    Outcomes: strand, seeking to identify current

    Employability & Entrepreneurship. thinking, the nature of current

    provision, the characteristics of good

    practice and subsequent priorities for Authors:

    future development of the CETL. The Pete Watton and Jason B. Truscott

    guidance within is not prescriptive, but

    a tool for the EL CETL and other Audience: institutions to use as they think fit. Aimed primarily towards the EL CETL

Acknowledgements

    The authors wish to particularly acknowledge the following people for their help and advice in gathering and better understanding the information included in this report. Mandy Burns (Careers Adviser, Science Faculty Team University of Plymouth)

    Prof Brian Chalkley (Director - GEES)

    Kate Colechin (Careers Advisor University of Plymouth)

    Dr Susan Boulton (IP and Entrepreneurship Manager University of Plymouth)

    Joe Ellison (Marketing and Entrepreneurship Officer University of Plymouth)

    Dr Sharon Gedye (Geography Employability Researcher - GEES)

    Dr Helen King (Assistant Director - GEES)

    Dr Yolande Knight (Resource Co-ordinator GEES)

    Mark Lintern (Head of Learning Development and Guidance University of Plymouth)

    The Experiential Learning CETL Team (University of Plymouth).

    The Members of the Advisory Forum for Entrepreneurship, Employability and WBL (EL CETL University of Plymouth)

CETL Contact details:

    Experiential Learning Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning 3-15 Endsleigh Place,

    University of Plymouth,

    Drake Circus

    Plymouth PL4 8AA

    elcetl@plymouth.ac.uk

    Tel: 01752 238660

     i

    Contents Page

     Page

    1.0 Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 1 2.0 Terminology: Defining employability and entrepreneurship and fieldwork ........................ 1 2.1 Definitions of employability .......................................................................................... 1 2.2 Definitions for entrepreneurship ................................................................................... 2 2.3 Definitions of Fieldwork ............................................................................................... 3 3.0 The rationale for employability in the curriculum .............................................................. 4 3.1 The Employable Graduate and the qualities that they need to demonstrate ................ 6 4.0 The relationship between employability and entrepreneurship ........................................ 7 5.0 Experiential learning and some implications in terms of learning for employability and

    entrepreneurship ............................................................................................................. 8 5.1 Some further considerations in terms of learning theory ............................................ 12 6.0 Audit: current policy and practice................................................................................... 13 6.1 The University of Plymouth‟s Skills Plus Strategy ...................................................... 13 6.2 Provision in the CETL disciplines at the University of Plymouth ................................. 14

    6.2.1 The School of Geography .................................................................................. 14

    6.2.2 The School of Earth, Ocean and Environmental Science ................................... 15

    6.2.3 The School of Biological Sciences ..................................................................... 15

    6.2.4 Summary by Employability theme ...................................................................... 16 7.0 National exemplars........................................................................................................ 17 7.1 Employability ............................................................................................................. 17 7.2 Entrepreneurship ....................................................................................................... 18 8.0 Conclusions .................................................................................................................. 21 9.0 Recommendations to enhance Employability and to deliver CETL targets .................... 22 10.0 References .................................................................................................................... 24

Appendix 1: Skills Plus Evaluation Completed Dec 2004: Summary of Responses in CETL

    Disciplines ................................................................................................................................ 30

    Appendix 2: Analysis of modules against employability criteria ................................................. 33

    Appendix 3: Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) .......................................... 39

     ii

    I hear and I forget, I see and I remember

    I do and I understand.

    (Confucius, 551-479 BC)

1.0 Introduction

    Whilst recognising that experiential learning opportunities can be found in a variety of academic settings, the CETL in Experiential Learning in environmental and natural sciences has received funding to support its focus on laboratory work, field-work and 1work-based learning. Complementing earlier work on work based learning (Watton et

    al., 2006), this report focuses on student employability and entrepreneurship, especially in relation to fieldwork. Intended to inform the work of the CETL, the report specifically aims to:

    ; clarify terminology

    ; provide a rationale for employability in the curriculum

    ; explore the relationship between employability and entrepreneurship

    ; explore what is meant by experiential learning and its implications in terms of

    learning for employability and entrepreneurship

    ; identify current practice in the CETL disciplines at the University of Plymouth and

    seek exemplars

    ; identify examples of best practice in relation to employability and

    entrepreneurship, both within the University and nationally and how they might

    apply to fieldwork

    ; develop recommendations to extend good practice in the core disciplines and

    more widely which will inform future CETL development activity

    The report is structured around these aims. Further reports have been produced by the CETL team (Magnier, 2005; Bridge, 2005; Truscott, 2005), which provides a more detailed analysis of labwork and fieldwork per se.

    2.0 Terminology: Defining employability and entrepreneurship and

    fieldwork

    So what is meant by the terms „employability‟ and „entrepreneurship‟, are there generally accepted definitions? It is obviously important for the CETL development team to have a shared understanding.

2.1 Definitions of employability

    The generally accepted definition of employability is the one offered by the ESECT 2team and subsequently adopted by the Higher Education Academy:

     1 CETL: Experiential learning in environmental; and natural sciences: Stage 2 bid for funding 2 Enhancing Student Employability Co-ordinating Team (September 2002 - February 2005)

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    „…a set of achievements, understandings and personal attributes that make

    individuals more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen

    occupations.‟

     (Little et al., 2004: 2)

    Lees (2002: 3) highlights the confusion sometimes associated with the terms employment and employability which are not the same:

    Being employed means having a job, being employable means having the

    qualities needed to maintain employment and progress in the workplace.

    Of course, gaining employment is not exclusively about an individual‟s employability skills; it is also about market conditions and the opportunities available.

In their perspective series on employability, Harvey et al. (2003: 1-2) conclude that in

    relation to higher education:

    ; Employability is about developing a range of attributes and abilities, not just job-

    getting skills.

    ; Employability is not something distinct from learning and pedagogy but grows out

    of good learning.

    ; What employers are looking for are flexible graduates who can add value when

    necessary but can also help transform the organisation in the face of change.

    ; Higher education is rapidly developing an array of approaches for explicitly

    enhancing the employability of their students.

    ; Increasingly higher education institutions are developing an integrated, strategic

    approach to employability issues.

2.2 Definitions for entrepreneurship

    Entrepreneurship is a derivation of „entrepreneur‟; the terms „entrepreneurism‟ and entrepreneurialism are sometimes also used. There are differing definitions of what constitutes an entrepreneur (Howorth et al., 2005: 24), a word first used by Cantillon

    (1734) to describe:

    „…a person who bears the risk of profit or loss‟ (Moreland 2004: 3).

    Risk is an important element of entrepreneurship which has been highlighted by Knight (1921) and Drucker (1985). Other definitions stress the importance of innovation:

    „…the process of uncovering and developing an opportunity to create value

    through innovation‟

    (US National Commission on Entrepreneurship, 2003)

    This suggests a new idea or product; merely starting a business would not necessarily be seen as entrepreneurial unless it offered something unique and innovative. Other definitions consider the development of new organisation, without mention of risk:

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    „Entrepreneurship is the creation and management of a new organisation

    designed to pursue a unique, innovative opportunity and achieve rapid, profitable

    growth‟ (Hindle 1999: 21)

    (Hindle & Rushworth, 2000: 38)

    In supporting entrepreneurship through the HE curriculum it seems most appropriate to adopt a broad interpretation, one that is relevant to different disciplines and different contexts, not only the „for-profit‟ sector. Jay Kayne of The Entrepreneurship Centre at

    Miami University of Ohio offers an interesting definition of entrepreneurship:

    Entrepreneurship [is] the process of identifying, developing, and bringing a vision

    to life. The vision may be an innovative idea, an opportunity, or simply a better

    way to do something. The end result of this process is the creation of a new

    venture [formed under conditions of risk and considerable uncertainty].

     (Scott et al., 2006: 2)

This definition would encompass „intrapreneurship- entrepreneurship by employees in

    existing organisations (Antoncic & Hirsch, 2003), „social entrepreneurship’;

    „…innovative, social value creating activity that can occur within or across the non-profit, business, or government sectors‟ (Austin et al., 2006); the „cyber-entrepreneur’

    (Carrier et al., 2004); and indeed „academic entrepreneurship’ - persons that are

    driven towards the betterment of academic institution and student learning environments (Brennan et al., 2005), such as a CETL team.

2.3 Definitions of Fieldwork

    One broad definition offered for fieldwork by Lonergan & Anderson (1988) is: „…any

    arena or zone within a subject where supervised learning can take place via first hand experience, outside the constraints of the four walls classroom setting‟.

    In an experiential context some may find the notion of supervision too strong a term. Magnier (2005) outlines a range of fieldwork aims:

    ; Extending the …[subject]… knowledge which the student already has.

    ; Data collection and hypothesis testing in the field extend the learning

    opportunities available and promote the application of learning objectives to the

    planning of fieldwork.

    ; Development and application of field analytical skills

    ; Development of investigative, participatory and communicative skills.

    ; Developing team work skills

    ; Supporting classroom teaching

    ; It is a social event, encouraging the staff and students to interrelate outside of the

    classroom

    ; Beneficial for employment reasons

    ; Development of transferable skills

    Kent et al. (1997: 317) suggested that types of fieldwork activity can be located within two sets of continua: between participation and observation; and between dependency and autonomy. Their diagram is reproduced as Figure 1.

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Figure 1: The continua of autonomy and participation in fieldwork from Kent et al. (1997: 317)

    individualindividualself-guidedself-guidedAUTONOMOUSAUTONOMOUS

    projectprojectTrailsTrails

    groupgroup

    projectproject

    staff-ledstaff-led

    projectsprojectsCookCooks tours tourDEPENDENTDEPENDENT

    OBSERVATIONPARTICIPATIONOBSERVATIONPARTICIPATION

3.0 The rationale for employability in the curriculum

    The importance of the HE curriculum in supporting student employability has been highlighted and refined through a number of initiatives and reports, including the Enterprise in HE initiative in 1987 (Mackney, 1995: 25), the Dearing report (1997), the Government White Paper (DfES, 2003), the work of the ESECT team and the current work of the Higher Education Academy. Governments recognise that higher education can make a significant contribution to national prosperity and expect students to be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to play their part.

    These graduate qualities need to prepare students for employment and self employment in a 21st century characterised by rapid technological and organisational change where career progression is unpredictable. Graduates need to be well qualified; they also need to be flexible and adaptable.

    With the increased number of graduates and competitive graduate labour market students are aware of the need to be employable. Given the contribution that students and parents are now having to make towards the cost of higher education, they are likely to be even more discerning about the courses they choose, carefully assessing the respective costs and benefits. Courses which demonstrably enhance their employability seem likely to benefit.

    In addition to this general situation, an Employability Guide being produced by the Geography, Earth and Environmental Science (GEES) Subject Centre (GEES, 2006) highlights additional pressures in these particular subject areas:

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    Within HE there has been a market shift away from academic disciplines towards

    highly vocational courses. Statistics on the numbers of students accepted onto

    environmental science programmes show a deep decline, whilst geography and

    geology numbers are relatively static, but in an expanding HE market (UCAS,

    2006).

    The Guide continues by pointing to the additional pressures from the rise in tuition fees and the detrimental effect that the same process had in Australia. The authors conclude that it is essential for these subjects strengthen their vocational appeal in order to help maintain student numbers and „healthy‟ departments (GEES, 2006).

    There are persuasive arguments for an employability curriculum and whilst recruitment onto courses in Biological Sciences do seem more stable (UCAS, 2006); the Centre for Bioscience expresses a similar commitment to the employability agenda (Biosciences HEA, 2006).

    Of course there may be resistance from some staff concerned at the appropriateness of employability in the HE curriculum and whether they are best equipped to deliver it, but is it significantly different from other aspects of HE provision? Indeed the qualities that support employability, which higher education needs to engender, are often very similar to the qualities required of an effective student. Good learning supports the development of employable graduates:

    Employability is more than about developing attributes, techniques or experience

    just to enable a student to get a job, or to progress within a current career. It is

    about learning and the emphasis is less on „employ‟ and more on „ability‟. In

    essence, the emphasis is on developing critical, reflective abilities, with a view to

    empowering and enhancing the learner. Employment is a by-product of this

    enabling process

     (Harvey and contributors, 2003: 3)

Figure 2 : The USEM model, diagram from Yorke and Knight (2003: 5)

     SSkills,

    including

    key skills

    Employability,Ecitizenship, etcPersonal

    qualities,

    including

    self-theories

    and efficacy

    beliefs

    Meta-Subjectcognitionunder-

    standing

     M U

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    Mantz Yorke and Peter Knight, previously members of the Enhancing Student Employability Co-ordinating Team (ESECT), support this notion, contending that:

    …there is a considerable degree of alignment between „education for

    employability‟ and good student learning (and the teaching, assessment and

    curriculum that go with it).

    (Yorke and Knight, 2003: 2)

    In their USEM model (see Figure 2) they identify four broad and inter-related components that they suggest employable graduates need to develop: understanding, skills, „efficacy beliefs‟ and metacognition. All are qualities which „good student learning‟ might be expected to encompass.

    3.1 The Employable Graduate and the qualities that they need to demonstrate The USEM model offers a helpful framework which can inform higher education theory and practice: it encompasses learner motivation, knowledge and understanding, technical and key skills, as well as self awareness as a learner. This framework can also accommodate the more detailed qualities required of an employable graduate identified by others, which sometimes overlap, but which occasionally conflict. It is helpful to briefly look at some of these viewpoints, represented in Figure 3.

    Lee Harvey et al. (1997) sought the views of employers who said that they

    wanted graduates with knowledge; intellect; willingness to learn; self-

    management skills; communication skills; team-working; and interpersonal skills.

    Peter Hawkins and Jonathan Winter (1995) highlighted 'career management

    skills and effective learning skills' required for graduates to gain employment: self-

    awareness; self-promotion; exploring and creating opportunities; action planning;

    networking; matching and decision-making; negotiation; political awareness;

    coping with uncertainty; development focus; transfer skills; self-confidence.

    John Brennan et al. (2001) investigated the perceptions of recently appointed

    graduates, identifying the ten top competencies they thought were required in

    employment: working under pressure; oral communication skills; accuracy,

    attention to detail; working in a team; time management; adaptability; initiative;

    working independently; taking responsibility and decisions; planning coordinating

    and organising

    The University of Plymouth seeks to develop qualities which meet employer needs and better prepare students through its own integrated Skills Plus Strategy, outlined in section 6 which seeks to support the development of subject knowledge and skills, graduate attributes and skills, career development skills, life long learning skills, business and organisational awareness and an international outlook.

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