Investigating how we can identify teaching and assessment strategies for integrating employability skills development in university finance and math subjects?

Year: 2021

Author: Cotronei-Baird, Valeria, Kalyanshetti, Ash

Type of paper: Individual Paper

Graduate employability is one of the most widely discussed graduate outcomes of higher education. The notable lack of employability skills (analysis, critical thinking, communication [verbal & written] and teamwork skills) required for work readiness of Maths (Deloitte, 2014; Hibberd et al., 2009) and Business graduates (Jackson, 2014; Jackson & Chapman, 2012) is a central concern of industry and a key focus of government and higher education policy in Australia. While the impetus exists for universities to produce work-ready graduates there is a dearth of research that has investigated maths and finance instructors’ (lecturers and tutors)understanding of employability skills and the extent to which they integrate them into their teaching practice.The purpose of presentation is to share the preliminary findings of finance and math instructors’ understanding of employability skills and the factors that support or hinder the teaching and assessment of the skills.  As this study has been challenged by a shift to online remote teaching and learning because of COVID-19 during 2020 and 2021, we also present some preliminary findings of the academics’ experience of preparing graduate for work readiness in the current climate. The study adapted a qualitative research framework that combines a mix of research strategies, including semi-structured interviews (pre- and post-observation), content analysis of curriculum documents, and observation of teaching and assessment practice over four phases.We also present the theoretical framework that guided this research; that is Argyris’ and Schön’s (1974) theoretical framework, which compares two types of action theory: espoused theories of action and theories-in-use. Espoused theories of action are those used by individuals to explain and justify their proposed behaviour or actions in a given situation (Argyris & Schön, 1974), while theories-in-use reflect what is actually enacted in practice, thereby exposing tacit theories that inform practice (Argyris & Schön, 1974). The theories-of-action framework is appropriate for the investigation because it enables an investigation of factors that inform practice beyond academics’ perceptions of the role of the university and the academic in equipping graduates with employability skills. The use of these contrasting theories offers a strategy for exploring practice that will assist in identifying the factors that underpin the integration, or lack of integration, of employability skills into current academic teaching and assessment practice. In addition, we have considered to what extent a typology garnered from a previous study (Author, 2020a, 2020b) is applicable for  facilitating the identification of disjuncture between espoused theories and actual practice and for fostering employability skills, and best practice possibilities.