A Longitudinal View of Students’ Perspectives on Their Professional and Career Development, Through Optional Business Skills for Chemists Modules, During Their Chemistry Degree Programme
Employers regularly cite a lack of commercial awareness and other transferable skills in new graduates. To address this issue, we developed a suite of employability-focused modules (or courses) under the umbrella of Business Skills for Chemists. The modules were, and continue to be, optional for all Chemistry undergraduates, with one 10-credit module (of 120 credits per year) for each undergraduate year of study. A context-based learning approach and group work was taken in each case, to introduce students to a wide range of industrially focused experiences. A retrospective longitudinal qualitative study of three students who took all three modules during their degree was undertaken to better understand students’ experience of the modules, and the impact on their career decision-making. This research was undertaken to gain greater insight than the regular student feedback obtained at the end of each module. During the modules and at the end of the degree, students identified that the modules had helped them to develop a wide range of skills and capabilities. Reflection is an essential component of the learning experience, ensuring that the students not only experience a skills-rich curriculum, but also have the ability to reflect upon and derive benefit from their experiences. The modules had also been prominent in their career decision-making, by introducing the students to a wide range of career options for Chemists, through the curriculum.
The author wishes to acknowledge:
The National HE STEM Programme, the Higher Education Academy, The Royal Society of Chemistry and the University of Leeds for their financial support and role as critical friend in creating the resources;
Their co-workers in the development and delivery of the modules: Christopher Pask, Patrick McGowan, Stephen Maw, Caroline Williams, Christopher Hone, Ben Hetherington, Kairen Skelley and Richard Doyle, all at the University of Leeds, Tina Overton, formerly of the University of Hull, and Paul Taylor, formerly of the University of Warwick;
The Chemistry Industrial Advisory Board of the University of Leeds, and other external contributors to the modules.
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