This page focuses on the element ‘explicit recognition and valuing of employability across the curriculum’. It provides a description of the element, highlights its relevance, and provides examples. Description Explicit recognition and valuing of employability across the curriculum – through employability-relevant learning outcomes and assessment; highlighting and encouraging students to recognise the skills being developed; encouragement to engage with curricular, co- and extra-curricular development opportunities (e.g. part-time work, volunteering, sports and societies, or caring responsibilities). Relevance for student development, employability and careers The curriculum is fundamental to students’ lives at university. It therefore has a critical role in supporting messages around employability and student development. Ensuring students are aware of the diverse skills they develop through their degrees and encouraging them to find new development opportunities, can help students recognise and have confidence in their strengths and skills. Increased awareness can support students’ continued personal and professional development and makes applications for future employment or further study easier and more effective. Tips and things to consider Below you will find some key tips and guidance to consider when developing explicit recognition and valuing of employability across the curriculum. Practical tips Creating employability-related learning outcomes This can, for instance, be obtained by contextualising learning outcomes and discussing how they can be applied. You can do this in different ways: you could redesign your learning outcomes completely; you could consider changing the context of existing learning outcomes by tweaking their language; or you could accompany learning outcomes with a small narrative on their employability links and benefits. Support students to check their motivations and work toward their goals At key points, such as transitions between years, you can have students reflect on what they want to do after their degrees and encourage them to engage with appropriate curricular, co- and extra-curricular options and activities that will help meet these goals. In earlier years, you can suggest more general engagement for a broad development, whereas in later years you can encourage targeted engagement when students are likely to think more specifically about careers or further study. Support your students in taking your subject or topic further Using your students’ interest in your subject or topic is a great a way to encourage them to actively engage in related opportunities within and outside the formal curriculum to deepen their learning and development. By investing a little time in researching courses, students societies, jobs, or volunteer positions relevant to the topic you teach, you will have concrete examples to support your students in engaging further and developing themselves. Explicitly link your assessments with wider learnings Even though as staff we are (hopefully) conscious of why we are choosing a particular form of assessment over other options, students rarely are aware of this. By explicitly communicating the reasons, as well as the skills required to be successful in your assessments, you can help manage students’ motivations and help them see the value gained through your assessment choices. Encourage students to find value in activities they are already doing Some students have obligations such as part-time work or caring responsibilities; others may seek out new opportunities and interests such as through volunteering or clubs and societies. Encourage students to reflect on the value of those experiences and how the activities develop them as individuals. For many opportunities, the Edinburgh Award can provide a supported and structured process for this. Edinburgh Award Help students see the value of your teaching by being explicit We may have invested a lot of time and thought into developing a course, choosing relevant pedagogies, learning outcomes, and assessments, but sometimes students just don’t see it or perceive the value. Being explicit about your reasons can help ensure that students recognise great teaching that is already in place and see the gains for their development, learning, and employability that comes from it. This can be during contact hours or in course descriptions (which can also support students in their course selections). Examples of practice in the University of Edinburgh There is diverse practice across the University that can be used to stimulate thinking about what is possible in your setting. Below is a link to a range of relevant practice from the Teaching Matters blog. The examples come from multiple parts of the student experience and relate either partially or substantially to this element. New articles are automatically added so check back in the future to discover some of the latest practice. Teaching Matters: relevant articles Further reading and external perspectives The references below provide some background on this element as well as some of the external drivers and motivations for including it. Overview These references provide the context of employability in higher education. With the increasing focus on creating graduates who are ready to enter the workforce and contribute positively to the economy, it is seen as increasingly important to support students in developing their employability. The references firstly highlight how employability comes from a range of experiences and achievements, showing the importance of supporting our students in gaining these. Moreover, the references highlight the importance of developing a range of skills at university and supporting our students in recognising and articulating them. Further reading Reference Description Knight, P.M., Yorke, M. (2006). Embedding employability into the curriculum. The Higher Education Academy, Learning & Employability Series. Knight and Yorke are credited with one of the most widely used definitions of employability. The definition highlights why employability is an important concept to think about, as well as why a range of experiences and skills are important to develop students’ employability. According to Knight and Yorke, employability is: 'a set of achievements – skills, understandings and personal attributes – that make graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations, which benefits themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy' p.3. This report also highlights the importance of extra-curricular activities. Yorke, M. (2006). Employability in higher education: what it is - what it is not. The Higher Education Academy, Learning & Employability Series. This article gives a good overview of what employability is and what it is not. It sets the context of the UK economy needing highly-skilled graduates and that developing students’ employability is a step towards this. In this and other publications, Yorke highlights the importance of seeing employability as a set of achievements and understandings; this highlights the importance of emphasising co- and extra-curricular activities in providing students a rich range of experiences and achievements. Cole, D. & Tippy, M. (2013). Defining and developing your approach to employability. The Higher Education Academy. The paper goes through a model of implementing and refining understandings of employability. It sets the context and importance of employability by quoting HEFCE (2011), which states: 'Embedding employability into the core of higher education will continue to be a key priority of Government, universities and colleges, and employers. This will bring significant private and public benefit, demonstrating higher education’s broader role in contributing to economic growth as well as its vital role in social and cultural development' (p.5). The paper also includes a series of questions that can support thinking around embedding employability. University of Edinburgh (2019). Strategic Vision 2025. Strategic Vision 2025 University of Edinburgh (2019) Strategy 2030. Strategy 2030 It is clear from both the Strategic Vision 2025 and Strategy 2030 that employability is a priority for the institution. From Strategy 2030 we see that the University’s focus includes 'maximising [our students’] potential to ensure that our graduates go on to achieve success in whatever they do, wherever they go' and specifically to 'support and promote teaching that focuses on experience, employability and an understanding of the value of creativity, curiosity, and even failure’. Employability’s importance is also emphasised in the Strategic Vision 2025: 'A deeper and earlier collaboration with industry, the public sector and the third sector – in terms of research; knowledge exchange; and in giving our students the best possible set of skills for their future.' (p.2). Brewer, L. (2013). Enhancing youth employability: What? Why? And how? Guide to core work skills. International Labour Office, Skills and Employability Department. This report focuses on and highlights the importance of employability in international contexts, and looks specifically at the significance of skills. Moreover, it highlights how students often possess skills but cannot articulate them. This puts extra importance on explicitly addressing skills development and employability within the student experience. Birmingham City University, Education Staff Development Unit & Careers Service (2008). Embedding PDP and Employability. Report This report provides practical advice for embedding both employability and PDP into the curriculum. It sets the context by quoting the Futuretrack 2006 survey: 'It is clear that, as a more diverse population chooses to go to university, greater emphasis is being placed on long-term employment prospects when choosing institutions and courses'. The report identifies that the higher education sector must respond to this challenge through focusing on its students’ employability. UK Commission for Employment and Skills (2009). The employability challenge: executive summary. Report This report sets the importance of employability. It places heavy significance on skills that boost employability and on a wide range of opportunities to develop them, such as experiential learning, work experience, and opportunities for reflection and integration. Ambrose, S.A., Bridges, M.W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M.C., & Norman, M.K. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching, Chapter 7. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. This book explores research-based approaches to teaching and touches on a series of topics relevant to employability. The following quote shows the importance of aiding our students in making links between our teaching methods and things which are relevant to them such as the ability to successfully enter the workforce: 'When students find positive value in a learning goal or activity, expect to successfully achieve a desired learning outcome, and perceive support from their environment, they are likely to be strongly motivated to learn' (p.5). Abrami, P.C., Bernard, R.M., Borokhovski, E., Wade, A., Surkes, M.A., Tamin, R., & Zhang, D. (2008). Instruction interventions affecting critical thinking skills and dispositions: a stage 1 meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 78(4), 1102-1134. and Abrami, P.C., Bernard, R.M., Borokhovski, E., Waddington, C., Wade, A., & Persson, T. (2015). Strategies for teaching students to think critically: a meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 43(2), 275-314. These meta-analyses explore the effects of explicit interventions on critical thinking skills in education settings. They found that students developed better critical thinking when time was taken to teach critical thinking skills specifically in contrast to hoping that students would learn the skills without direct input. It was also found that larger effect sizes were achieved when viewing and stating critical thinking as a course objective. This highlights the importance of thinking about skills development and the likely value of protecting time and explicitly addressing skills development in the curriculum.