The development of undergraduate employability skills through authentic assessment in college-based higher education.




employability-focused assessment design, problem-solving, authentic assessment, college-based higher education, employability skills


This paper explores how authentic assessment can be implemented to enhance opportunities to develop employability skills through problem-solving tasks. Based on the eight key tenets of authentic assessment (Ashford-Rowe, Herrington and Brown, 2014), this paper presents formative and summative assessment case studies which were created in partnership with external stakeholders on three separate degree programmes at an undergraduate college-based higher education provider. The case studies report on the development of employability skills through authentic learning design on courses ranging from level 4 to level 6 of the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications. The cases add weight to the argument for embedding employability within the curriculum wherein the core skills/intended outcomes are delivered as part of the taught curriculum rather than as paralleled approaches which aim to develop employability as an add-on. Each of the case studies are individually distinct, however they each share commonalities that collectively produce an effective framework for authentic assessment design. These key components include effective collaboration with external stakeholders (employers) from within the respective sectors, the joint formulation of a ‘problem’ that allows students to apply real world skillsets to overcome, and lastly the opportunity for external stakeholders to contribute towards feedback that students receive in respect to the assessment carried out. Learning developers in higher education should look to utilise the conclusions of this paper to inform learning design in their contexts.

Author Biographies

Daniel Connolly, Barnsley College

Dan Connolly is a Teaching and Learning Coach at Barnsley College and PhD student at Leeds Trinity University exploring teaching methods, strategies, and tools used in college-based higher education. He is a Senior Fellow of Advance HE and has a MSc in Sport and Physical Education. He has over ten years’ experience teaching further and higher education and is now the module leader for various modules on the Level 6 Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). In his role, he is also responsible for planning and implementing continuous professional development and undertaking professional practice observations of higher education teaching staff.

Lliam Dickinson, Barnsley College

Lliam Dickinson is a Higher Education Pathway Leader at Barnsley College Higher Education. He has an MSc in Health and Wellbeing and is a former Advanced Practitioner and Wellbeing lead. His current research, teaching, and vocational interests include student experiences and wellbeing, the role of the environment on health, and physical activity.  

Luke Hellewell, Barnsley College

Luke Hellewell is a Higher Education Pathway Leader within the subject areas of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Barnsley College Higher Education. He has an MSc in Criminology and International Security and has research interests in the areas of authentic assessment, employability, and online/hybrid learning, alongside subject specific interests in transnational organised crime and southern criminology perspectives. Luke has many years of experience working directly within the criminal justice sector, which he utilises to integrate innovative and contemporary HE teaching and learning pedagogies into the curricula.


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How to Cite

Connolly, D., Dickinson, L. and Hellewell, L. (2023) “The development of undergraduate employability skills through authentic assessment in college-based higher education”., Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (27). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi27.1004.



Case Studies