Student Attitudes to Sustainability and Employability Skills: Expectations from the University Curriculum

Priddle, Julian and Greig, Alison and Wiles, Ella (2015) Student Attitudes to Sustainability and Employability Skills: Expectations from the University Curriculum. In: Integrative Approaches to Sustainable Development at University Level. World Sustainability Series . Springer, Cham, Switzerland, pp. 143-154. ISBN 978-3-319-10690-8

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Students in higher education in the UK may focus on gaining good academic results but neglect skills that underpin successful job applications. This study explored students’ understanding of the importance of these skills, and where they felt they were most likely to acquire them. Two data sets are presented. The first comes from an internal survey of all students covering a wide range of satisfaction and experience issues, and in one year included specific questions on employability and sustainability. Data come from a large sample of students (>3,000), but provide little context relating attitudes to experience within and outside the curriculum. To supplement these data, a separate survey was conducted that explored attitudes in more detail. Students (n = 279) at various points in their university career were asked to rate the importance of eleven skills linked to employability and sustainability. Responses indicated that the importance attached to these skills increased consistently as they moved through their course and into employment. Despite an emphasis on delivery of these skills within the university curriculum, students typically felt that they acquired such skills almost exclusively outside the curriculum. For instance, they were almost four times as likely to agree that they developed an ‘Understanding of how to act as a responsible citizen’ outside the curriculum than within their course. Only skills with a more obvious academic flavour, such as the ‘Ability to assess and critique information sources’, were seen to derive from their course. These results demonstrate a gap between the perceived skills delivery by the institution and students perceptions of where they acquired them, and imply the need for improvements in skills delivery.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Keywords: Sustainability, Employability, Education, Student attitudes, Skills acquisition
Faculty: ARCHIVED Faculty of Science & Technology (until September 2018)
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2019 14:40
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 16:15

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