Making a difference to employability through assessment
Students will know some of the benefits and costs of an undergraduate degree. They will be told of the degree 'premium' and that, over a lifetime, they can expect to be better off. A university education will open doors to professions that will seem distant when completing school education. They will anecdotally hear stories about employers expecting a first or upper second. They will also know that some students will never pay back their loans. The reality is that an undergraduate degree can lead to a good job but this is not the case for all students as finding graduate level employment will be very challenging for some. We argue that courses should continually look at ways to enhance the employability of their students.It is understandable that students will see good grades from assessment as the route to a good degree and ultimately to a good job. If assessment can also develop and evidence the skills valued by others, particularly employers, then further benefits are added. There are a number of ways that student employability can be supported, including: careers advice; jobs fairs; visiting speakers and possibly a placement opportunity. We argue that, additionally, assessment can make a difference and with thoughtful design can make an even bigger difference. It is the author's experience that if students are asked what they learnt on their course, they are likely to talk about the outcomes of assessment. If these outcomes also evidence the skills valued by the employer, then this will present a more persuasive response. Assessment is critical for all courses. If assessment can leave the student with outcomes, experience or artefacts that evidence a 'can-do' ability then we argue this must positively impact on employability.
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