The Employability Research Project

The Employability Research Project is run by GENIEin the University of Leicester genetics department and the Education Unit in the Students’ Union (SU). The team working on this project is a composition of 8 students and staff from both the SU and the University. I act as coordinator, which involves chairing the meeting and running the overall process directing the rest of the team. The project has been running since Novemeber 2011 and is ongoing.

The aims of the project are:-
•To find out what students and staff think employability skills are and where students and staff think students are getting these skills whilst at University
•To find out other ways that student and staff feel employability skills could be further embedded in the curriculum and developed in activities outside of academic studies.
•To produce specific guidelines to develop and improve the ways in which employability skills are embedding within the curriculum.

The research methods used to gather staff and student’s views include a survey, focus groups and one on one interviews with students and employers. Two staff and two student focus groups were conducted and each student working on the project conducted an interview.

There are two surveys, one for staff and one for students, both of which have many similar questions in order to draw comparisons between the views of the two groups. These surveys are available online via the following links and as hard copies.

www.surveymonkey.com/s/employabilitystudent  

www.surveymonkey.com/s/employabilitystaff

A lot of thought went into the content of these surveys by the students and staff working on the project. The content was discussed at several of our weekly meeting, which take place on a Tuesday morning at 9am. My role at these meetings is to plan the agenda, chair and set tasks for the students. A link to the online version was sent round to all staff and student by email via the department secretaries.

A week of promotion was carried out in which students working on the project actively encouraged students to fill out the survey on campus. For this I ordered pens (click to see design) showing the link to the online survey, flyers (design shown below), posters, box stands and lollies to encourage people to take. The students promoting were equipped with both hard copies of the survey and iPads to allow people to fill it in online.  As well as the students already working on the project we also hired some more promotional student staff. A huge incentive was given to students to fill in the survey which was that they would be entered into a draw to win an iPad!

Employability Flyer and Poster Design:

 

Other promotion which ran for longer than a week included using the designs for the poster and flyers as profile pictures on Facebook and putting them on the TV screens around our Students’ Union.  A Facebook event was set up giving people details of the project and the link to the survey. Lecture shout outs were given and emails were sent round via departments and to societies and sports clubs.

As a further push during the last week of term (week commencing 26th March) we put on a lunch in the Students’ Union allowing people to get free food in return for filling out the survey. We also added an extra incentive of handing in 3 surveys in exchange for a creme egg.

A picture taken at the promotional lunch, also showing the box stand:

Data collection will finish on 30th March 2012 after which a report will be written including the following:
•A literature Review
•Methodology
•Data Analysis
•Focus Group and Interview write up
•Conclusion and Recommendations

The report will be primarily written by the student staff who have all been assigned a section. A member of academic or Union staff will oversee or look after the students working on each section. I will oversee the whole report ensuring everyone is contributing and that everything is running smoothly.

A presentation of this report will be given by two or three of the student staff at several different academic committee meetings across the University.

So far the project is going really well. Student and staff input is on track meaning hopefully we will get some good results and be able to use the finding to improve the student learning experience and increase their chances of gaining employment following their studies.

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