Significant effort at the University of Reading has been focused on all aspects of Internationalisation. In the School of Biological Sciences, we are working toward enhancing Global Employability of our students (both home and overseas) to produce high quality, highly competitive Global Graduates. Our vision of a Global Graduate will be someone who is highly competitive in the international market and who will be able to successfully practice their chosen science globally.
In the Spring of this year, we initiated a pilot project funded by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) to develop and promote best practice in teaching and learning, that would directly contribute to students’ skill development and work experience. Our pilot project was recently highlighted in the ‘University of Reading Internationalisation Newsletter’, which is distributed widely across campus and alumni.
Over the Summer, we led focus group workshops with students to better understand their concerns with regards to 6 defined areas: Teaching Methods, Learning Styles, Assessment Methods, Academic Support (including tutorial teaching), Technical Support and Career Management. These workshops were well attended with both international and home students, and included students from other Schools within the Faculty of Life Sciences.
Following these workshops, it was decided to develop and deploy an online survey for all students across the Life Science Faculty, to better understand the breadth and depth of students’ science-based skills and personal attributes necessary to produce a truly Global Graduate. The survey encompasses; prior and current academic profile of the students, student teaching experience, student support as obtained from teaching/academic supervisor(s), practical laboratory sessions, learning aids/tools, method of learning, assessment & plagiarism, language barriers, assessment feedback, work-based skills, placement experience and global career aspirations. The survey has been mapped with that of the Pathfinder survey from CDoTL to ensure coverage of critically important aspects of T&L and Employability.
Additionally, we have been engaged in further focus group discussions with UROP, SEED and year-long placement students to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the students’ perspective of work-based bioscience skill development, leading to relevant work experience. We have planned further focus group workshops with bioscience-based Employers, whereby students will have the opportunity to interact with career relevant employers and hear, directly from employers, what they really want.
The knowledge gained in these projects will be used to help effect positive change across the Science faculties and to further enhance the global employability skills of our science graduates and, to contribute positively to their University learning experience while at Reading.
The Institute-wide project also funded by HEA and primarily rooted in STEM subject areas is supported at all levels at Reading, including Professor Steve Mithen, our Pro-VC of International & External Engagement. Core academic staff in the School of Biological Sciences and School of Chemistry, Food & Pharmacy are actively contributing to the Institution-wide project. Importantly, staff across a number of Directorates at the University also are involved.
A residential programme led by the Higher Education Academy, held in Leeds earlier this September, helped us identify additional stakeholders in this project and, provided future directions and possible outcomes – watch this space! One immediate outcome is that, through collaboration with the Digitally Ready project team, we are hoping to receive funds to employ a student for a flexible 7 week placement. In the first instance, the student will be involved in data analysis of the faculty-wide survey and will focus on understanding students’ use and engagement of technologies for delivery of T&L. The student also will have the opportunity to be involved in the development of novel, engaging and interactive tools for future enhancement of the T&L bioscience curriculum.