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Developing transferable skills through embedding reflection in the science curriculum

Abstract

A longstanding challenge for educators in Higher Education is the need to prepare students for their career journey after graduation. While theoretical foundations are needed, students should be able to apply knowledge in new contexts and be able to demonstrate and evidence life- and employability-skills valuable to employers. Many degrees provide students with the opportunity to develop transferable skills, for instance through giving presentations and working in teams. Nevertheless, students are not always able to reflect on their skills development, and on the connection between theory, practice and their learning. Authentic assessments can create links between theory and practice preparing students for the workplace. However, it is common to see the product of a particular activity being assessed, and not the process through which the product was produced. This may encourage students to value the end product over skills development, and therefore not appreciate how their University experiences prepare them for the workplace. Science students can struggle with self-reflection, and therefore may find it difficult to articulate and evidence skills during job applications. We present different ways to foster self-reflection when transferable skills are embedded and assessed in the curriculum. However, we claim that the process of reflection should be taught and supported and new ways of assessing students are needed to help them develop their ability to self-reflect.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank Susanne Voelkel and Daniel J Rigden for critically reading and commenting on the manuscript. This work was funded by the School of Life Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 7ZB.

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Correspondence to Luciane V. Mello.

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Mello, L.V., Wattret, G. Developing transferable skills through embedding reflection in the science curriculum. Biophys Rev (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12551-021-00852-3

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