How Brunel University Psychology undergraduate programme responds to the emerging graduate challenges.

Year: 2021

Author: Barbosa Boucas, Sofia, Otermans, Pauldy

Type of paper: Individual Paper

The external landscape is changing the way we view teaching and learning. The way we react as an institution in terms of attainment/achievement gap, social inequality and graduate employability as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, must focus on upscaling our students in order to get them ready for the Industrial Revolution 4.0. These social factors need to be brought into our teaching and learning approaches and assessment design to make it effective. The psychology undergraduate student cohort is very diverse, with 20% of the student identifying as Black and 33% as Asian. However, only 70% of Black students and 72% of Asian students are awarded a first or an upper second honours degree compared to 79% for White students. This gap in attainment/achievement is evident at programme-level, year-level and module-level, and is irrespective of assessment type. Universities UK considers that the four most relevant contributing factors to this attainment/achievement gap are a lack of diverse Higher Education role models, curriculum delivery, lack of diversity in senior staff, and curriculum design. As a result, the psychology undergraduate programme at Brunel University London is being improved to further develop measures and implement initiatives to narrow this gap. These include an increase in synoptic assessments, authentic assessments, and assessments with a reflective component, the introduction of more interactive elements/activities in the synchronous online or in-person teaching sessions, and employability enhancing activities as part of the psychology graduate stream. Enhancing employability can be defined as empowering students to develop a set of skills and attributes to make graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their graduate life. While people with technical expertise struggle to make sense of analyses of human behaviour data, psychology graduates are suitably placed to fill that gap. While the Brunel Psychology undergraduate curriculum is at capacity because of the requisite to fulfil the British Psychological Society’s requirements, there is also an acknowledgement that students need supplemental training in fields such as data analysis, business analytics and business management skills to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. In order to make our graduates stand out from the crowd, we have created the Graduate Stream in Psychology Award which consists of employability enhancing activities, work experience and volunteering experience, as well as a Data Analysis Certificate. In this way we are responding to the societal emerging challenges and changing education and job market landscape.