22 SES 09 C, Employability and Transition to Work of Higher Education Graduates
The cultural changes in the modern society create new challenges for educators in Europe. The higher education curriculum has changed from factual knowledge acquisition to developing students’ competences and skills in response to a changing professional environment. This paper analyses student experience and academic results in generic and subject-specific competence development in order to evaluate the potential of using problem-based learning (PBL) and project-based (PrBL) learning to increase the students´ prospects of employment. The fast pace of technological advancements, interdisciplinary work, changing organisations and globalisation of the workplace characterize the modern knowledge-based society. Equipping students with competences required for their social and professional integration, successful career and personal development is a key mission of the higher education sector. Promoting effective teaching and learning methods facilitates the acquisition of professional skills and competence, and at the same time addresses the needs of a diverse student body in higher education.
This paper explores the opportunities for implementing PBL and PrBL in a range of programmes at the University West, Sweden and Lancaster University, UK focusing on the development of generic and subject specific competences. This is an on-going collaboration between two universities [1-3].
PBL and PrBL are the examples of collaborative student-focused learning and are supported by constructivist theory [4-6]. These methods encourage deeper learning via meaning construction, connecting ideas as well as creating meaningful artifacts. They stimulate a collaborative process of building among participants, develop self-directed learning, improve student performance and develop a range of study skills through creating an informal environment for learning.
Our study was carried out at the University West, Sweden and Lancaster University, UK in 2009. The objectives of the study were:
• To assess the level of student-acquired competences, generic and subject-specific (mathematics, engineering)
• To evaluate the quality of student experience by assessing the impact of PBL and PrBL on students’ competence development;
• To identify the best practice and opportunities for promoting effective teaching and learning methods to enhance student employability prospects.
1. Nilsson G. and Luchinskaya E. “Problem-based Learning and competence development: a Case Study of Teaching Mathematics to Computer Science Students”, Journal of Research in Teacher Education, 2007, No 3. p 13-21. 2. Nilsson G. and Luchinskaya E. Using Problem-based and Peer-assisted Learning in Teaching Mathematics to University Students: Focus on Competence Development. Paper presented at the European Educational Research Conference, ECER 2009, Vienna, Austria, September 2009. 3. Luchinskaya E., Nilsson G. and Williams C., “Developing students’ competences in the light of Bologna process: the responses from Sweden and Russia”. Paper presented at the European Educational Research Conference, ECER 2008, Gothenburg, Sweden, September 2008. 4. Vygotsky, L. S. Mind in society. The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1978 5. Phillips, D. Constructivism in education: Opinions and second opinions on controversial issues. Chicago, IL University of Chicago Press, 2000 6. Light, G., Cox, R., & Calkins, S. (2009) Teaching and learning in higher education: The reflective professional. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2009.
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