Peter Knight: Pedagogic practices influence employability
This past Friday (April 20, 2007), we had a guest speaker at work -- Peter Knight from the Open University UK (announcement). He gave his talk, although it included rather radical ideas for curriculum change, in a calm and convincing manner. Peter proposes to use the ongoing implementation of the Bologna process (standardizing academic degrees across Europe and higher education reform) to simultaneously change university curricula. The purpose of the suggested curricular change is to increase employability of university graduates by integrating a wider range of pedagogic practices. In one of his books, Peter provides evidence from research to show what skills employers want from the university graduates they hire, and how current university studies do not live up to providing the right education for this demand. Usually employers are happy with the discipline-specific skills of graduates, but are less happy with soft or generic skills such as time management, team working, and communication.
His suggestion for overcoming this mismatch is to place more focus on pedagogic practices that go beyond the usual lectures, multiple-choice tests and essay writings, and to specifically train these generic skills (he backs this strategy with research results -- and mentions that research results are always needed in order to be convincing ). He talked about the difficulty of measuring and assessing "soft skills" and about how much time and training in different situations these skills take to grow into expert levels. The ideas of this curricular change, although Peter admitted that this process will take up a good amount of time, are currently being tested in a pilot project with a few colleges in the UK. Very inspirational! Thank you!
Addition on 04/26/07: The conference ePortfolio 2007 (October 2007 in Maastricht) features a related theme "Employability and Lifelong Learning in the Knowledge Society". The call for papers is running now and ends on May 15 for practitioner papers and on June 15 for scientific papers.