Assessing employability

Harish Jyawali, Senior lecturer at Greenwich School of Management uncovers the issues in work related assessment

As the financial burdens on students grow, the employability issue has become one of their biggest concerns. This is further fuelled by the competitive labour market, and increasing demand for professional skills and knowledge from employers. There is also growing pressure on HE providers to reflect these issues in the curriculum and learning activities.

In higher education, specifically at undergraduate level, the objectives of learning should not be limited within the theoretical cognitive loop, but also on the use and application of knowledge. Work- related learning refers to the development of knowledge and skills that are of importance within the work context; the focus is to promote learning for work rather than learning at work as defined by work based learning, which might not be always possible due to larger classes and limited resources.

Over the past year, my work has focussed on work related assessments; the objective was to develop assessment that does not only address the learning outcome, but also encourage and motivate students to learn by emphasising work related knowledge, skills and understandings, without undermining the richness of deep learning.

From my experience of teaching the Human Resource Management and related modules at undergraduate level, it is evidenced that work related assessment not only motivates students but also engages them in the deep learning. Similar to other business management programme, students studying HRM are expected to have work related skills, and these are highlighted by the Chartered institute of professional development, CIPD for the professional membership.

Students perceive that what they are required to do in the assessment is related to what they are expected to do at work. It has also been found that students were engaged in gaining feedback not only from their lecturers, but also from their friends, colleagues and managers, which allow opportunities to interpret, analyse and evaluate the subject beyond the surface learning. Success rate in the modules with work related assessment has been comparatively higher than the other modules that have traditionally designed assessment methods.

Assessment has been always been at the core of a student’s learning. However, it is evident that it might not be effective when it is not designed appropriately, or the importance of rich learning experiences is undermined.