All our futures: What is the role of LLS provision in developing transferable, graduate attribute skills?

Elizabeth Palmer, Lianne Davies and Sylvie Lomer

2016 conference

With the launch of the new University of Northampton [UN] Teaching & Learning Strategy and the ChANGE project [Changemaker Attributes at Northampton for Graduate Employability], UN is working to provide an environment and curriculum that enriches the minds of its undergraduates and equips them with a range of transferable skills that ensure they are able to critique current knowledge and create knowledge for themselves.

UN seeks to create thinkers who can analyse, deconstruct and evaluate current research, identify problems and be confident enough to do something about it. In short to create students who are academically capable and socially and ethically responsible and highly employable: the Changemakers of the future.

As it stands much, is being done to embed Changemaker and Employability agendas into the students’ day to day experience; Rachel Maxwell (ILT) is developing the ChANGE project that embeds Changemaker and Employability Skills within the curriculum through learning outcomes, Employability and Changemaker skills and attributes are being promoted through the Changemaker Certificate and Employability Plus, and The Changemaker Hub seeks to draw together resources across areas and departments to make visible the transferable quality of these skills and attributes.

What is much less transparent is the way that this ties in with the students’ ongoing development of academic skills during their studies, particularly within the context of Library & Learning Services (LLS) provision. LLS’s reputation, as the key support mechanism for developing these skills, grows year on year and as such students are increasingly emphasising this element of their engagement with the University This provides the opportunity to further embed connections between graduate and employability skills and Changemaker attributes with their ongoing academic development. This level of synthesis is necessary to ensure that the vision of the University becomes a lived reality throughout their curricular and extra-curricular experiences.

LLS play a vital role in the promotion and delivery of a holistic student experience that ensures students understand the value, connectedness and relevance of the three areas of skills development. LLS, in particular the Centre for Achievement and Performance (CfAP), have started to embed the ethos of Changemaker and Employability into their resource development (through reworking their online provision) and delivery (through embedding the ethos in academic skills workshops and study guides).

Through a number of hands-on tasks, this workshop provides an opportunity to explore and discuss perceptions of the nature, purpose and visibility of such transferable skills, particularly regarding the link with academic development and support structures (such as LLS), to compare these discussions with the student perceptions gathered from the underpinning research project and to consider the role we can individually and collectively play in developing skilled graduates.