Work-based Practice and Employability – Faculty Forum

The Faculty of Education and Humanities Autumn Faculty Forum incorporated small group discussion of key questions related to how students share their experience of work-based learning and the link between this and students developing confidence in their employability skills. The groups were  composed of staff from across the programmes within the Faculty and key points were recorded via the use of a Padlet.

The relevance of the discussion in the context of this research project is our consideration of how students share their work-based experience with peers, particularly with respect to considering how planned and informal instances of social interaction occur and the context of Eraut (2007: 407), identifying that ‘much uncodified cultural knowledge is acquired informally through participation in social activities; and much is often so ‘taken for granted’ that people are unaware of its influence on their behaviour.’ Some points from the discussion groups explore the extent to which these opportunities are embedded within programmes and the extent to which they are made possible by the programme providing an environment and an ethos that is conducive to their development. This provides a backdrop to the later stages of the project which incorporates data drawn from the student perspective, of the value of sharing work based experiences and how this influences the development of communities of study and whether this can impact positively upon the student experience and on the development of students’ employability skills.

One of the themes that emerged from the discussions, was how taking part in work-based practice and work-related practice conversations can provide opportunities for students to find common experiences that draw them into debate and student-led learning opportunities.

The points which emerged are grouped:

  • Role of Programme Teams in providing environment for discussions that support students’ confidence in articulating their work-based experience
  • The value to students of having opportunities for reflection


Role of Programme Teams in providing environment for discussions that support students’ confidence in articulating their work-based experience



Sense of students having common purpose when they are discussing and reflecting upon transferable skills, their professional development and career opportunities and this provides opportunities for open debate. Students share the experience of presentations and speaking to their peers. They have opportunities to take part in activities and assessments that involve teamwork.


Self and peer reflection provide opportunities that develop students’ ability to recognise, evaluate and improve their employability skills.


Programme teams value giving students activities that enable them to:

•            build relationships

•            practise social and communication skills

•            improve interpersonal collaboration.


Scaffolding group discussion and seminar discussions can help students to be aware of and articulate the differences between their work-based experiences.


A module that incorporates or is structured around debate gives students the opportunity to extend their knowledge and they identify that this gives them confidence, for example, at interviews.


Aim for an ethos which will develop confidence in students.


Student experiences in and from the work based placement need to be valued and form part of the discursive process.


Help students to really understand and articulate what they are capable of.


Provide professional dialogue opportunities for undergraduates to present themselves and their development. This makes them think about how their learning relates to their employability.


Provide students with chance to visit settings with good practice and link this to their reflection on how this has contributed to their degree studies in relation to knowledge and skills gained.


Identify ways to provide networks for students.


Programmes need to be cognisant that students may not have clear sense of what they want to get out of their studies – programmes need to be responsive to this eg via tutorials, targets, use of career aims discussions, provision of bespoke events which include employer input.


Facilitate students to be able to understand and explain how their degree studies are preparing them for the world of work.


The value to students of having opportunities for reflection


Reflection means having the power and the confidence to articulate what has been learnt and may provide a sense of being able to influence and challenge current practice.


Students value opportunities for recording and reporting the impact they have made on placement and this supports their skills of reflection and understanding of progression.


Discussion opportunities provide a safe space for students to engage in shared reflection without feeling compromised or that they have failed in some way. They can recover from their ‘mistakes’ and learn to negotiate with others.


Encouraging students to highlight their skills and knowledge through development of impact stories.


Benefits of group projects – benefit of shared learning embedded in the process of group project related to work based learning and the opportunity to evaluate this in relation to how this has contributed to their studies and enhanced their confidence.


Value of assessment that uses methods used in work-based practice and gives relevant opportunities for reflection.



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