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When is a skill not a skill? Working with student and lecturer's perceptions of a valid skill set for science graduates

Monica Leggett, Ian Bennett, Mary Boyce and Adrianne Kinnear
Edith Cowan University
Graduate career paths are becoming more diverse with new careers developing and many science students moving in and out of science as their careers develop. As lecturers and course designers, we therefore need to provide students with an appropriately flexible set of skills. Our experience indicates that there is a mismatch between students' perceptions of the skills needed for a successful university experience, lecturers' perceptions of the skills required for success at university and both group's perception of skills needed in the workplace.

In an attempt to clarify this situation, we held a workshop for staff in which we identified the skills that we considered important for students to succeed at university and in the workplace. From this workshop we identified a hierarchy of skills and shared experiences of the incongruity between our expectations and some of our students' interpretation of the study game. We also surveyed students and asked them to rate the importance of a set of skills and to add skills that we had missed and to rate these. The list of skills supplied included skills that staff considered trivial as well as those that they considered to be core skills. Our pilot study indicated such interesting differences between years that we followed it up with a much larger survey. In this session, we will present key findings from our data.

Key questions:

Contact person: Monica Leggett, Senior Lecturer, School of Natural Sciences, Edith Cowan University

Presentation format: Roundtable

Please cite as: Leggett, M., Bennett, I., Boyce, M. and Kinnear, A. (2002). When is a skill not a skill? Working with student and lecturer's perceptions of a valid skill set for science graduates. In Focusing on the Student. Proceedings of the 11th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 5-6 February 2002. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2002/abstracts/leggett-abs.html

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