Evidencing learning in Science and careers

Heather Pate, Edith Cowan University

Heather Pate, Senior Learning Designer from Edith Cowan University on ‘Evidencing learning in Science and Careers.’ This recording is from our 2022 Perth, Australia MiniBash community event. Videos are for educational personnel only and require a live educational email to watch. You can read the video transcript below.


Thanks, Jacqui. Thanks, everyone.

Thank you all for, you know, being here, I suppose.

My name’s Heather Pate. I work here at ECU in the Center for Learning and Teaching, which is actually just behind us here.

I’m a single learning designer and I support I have been supporting the School of Science in their course, wide curriculum changes and things like that. So what we’ve been doing in the School of Science, what we’ve started introducing is a course long course wide portfolio idea.

So we use an integrative learning approach to do this, which is something we started doing in twenty sixteen in our first employability to sort of drive at the university.

What we do is we collect stories and evidence from throughout the course both in the units themselves and also co curricularly as well, so encouraging students to go out and get their own evidence of their own learning and stories of their own experiences.

So the four reasons for for doing the portfolio, and this is what we tell the students, is first of all to apply for will in the School of Science, they have a system where they’re starting to have a system where students will need to apply for will placement using a portfolio. And and that that through Justin Brown, who is the ADTL for science, he actually led had a grant, and this is actually part also of that grant process related to using portfolios for will.

Another reason is to prepare students who are doing the portfolio unit in their final year, if they’re students who are doing the bachelor of science, and also to prepare students for interviews and for work, even if they’re not doing well, and even if they’re not doing the portfolio unit, to prepare them for those things. And the fourth one is actually the same as the third one but louder, which is to be able to confidently articulate their skills and their achievements.

In an interview, but actually just know that themselves that this is stuff I can do. This is stuff I know. I have stories and I have evidence to prove these are the things I know and I can do.

So as I mentioned before, I’m a learning designer So one area that I’ve been working with with many others is in course mapping and coming up with course learning outcomes that go, obviously, from first year to third year, we had a project again, back in twenty sixteen or twenty seventeen, where we developed a set of import course learning outcome skills to use as a generic background, I suppose, to any course in the university. And Chris Oley here was also on the team where we we did that back in the day. So what we did from that was because we looked at the AQF, we looked at the requirements in the AQF, we looked at the at at the government employability skills that were being that the the government had created we looked at other universities and we benchmarked against those universities and from that we came up with eight skills to directly relate each of those core study outcomes to.

And they’re down on the side as and that’s employability skills. So that is disciplined knowledge, critical thinking, creative thinking, digital skills, or multiple latruses, communication skills, multiple perspectives, working collaboratively, and self management. And so what we did in science was we took those and we made sure that those eight skills related to eight outcomes in the same order so that it didn’t matter if you were doing a bachelor of of cybersecurity or a bachelor of science majoring in biology Those eight skills are the same skills, but they they are different skills according to what you actually need from discipline, if you see what I mean.

So your critical thinking skills might be different depending on what you’re doing. So it it came up that student staff knew this, but students didn’t necessarily know this. In fact, people would say to me, what’s the point of this anyway? It’s complete rubbish.

Students don’t know what the course learning outcomes are. So I said, well what, like, why don’t we tell them, and then they will. So what a step we’ve taken with this version of the workbook which has actually been this inter interview process for quite a long time. For the science one was I’ve been working together with Joe MacGregor, who is in careers.

And she said, hey, wouldn’t it be great if we linked our workbook to employability skills? And she gave me this well, she sent me a link to a document from the UK, which had eight skills, eight employability skills that you that we we we would like students to have by the time they graduate And if you look at those skills, which aren’t but I don’t know if you can see it, under those icons, they’re actually virtually they really are identically, they’re the same skills that we came up with as well, problem solving, such critical thinking, communication, self management, teamwork, creativity, numeracy, all that sort of multiple latruses, digital skills and and informed. So that’s our discipline knowledge. That’s how we look at it anyway. So I’ve got a fantastic a coincidence, not exactly coincidence because that sort of makes sense. So she also pointed out that things employers are looking into are not just skills, but also competencies.

So this came from the same document that she sent me, which was they’ve got competency, drive, resilience, reflection. And two, those we added three of the ECU values, which are integrity respect and courage. So also encouraging students to come up with evidence and evidence and and stories related to their competencies as well.

So to do this, we really didn’t bring it to the students, but it’s just to understand what it is they’re doing, why are they doing it, how it actually all those things linked to what they themselves are going to bring to their future self. So in first year, first semester, we went to each of the courses to introduce the the workbook.

To start with, we just started really simply, you’ve got here my my profile. So that is just their name, their email address there, and what course they’re doing because, you know, often students actually don’t know what course what the name of their course is. So just get that information down.

It’s true.

It’s sad.

Then this was on a Joe initiative, Joe MacGregor initiative which was from the careers career’s opportunities was to go use the ECU website, go follow the link there that takes you to the students page where if they go to career career opportunities, it gives them choices, gives them ideas of what it is they might like to to think about as a career. So go there, just copy and paste it, just copy and paste the different kinds of jobs that might come up. And then from that list, choose one or two that to you sound like they’re quite interesting. And then use those jobs to start writing up your your biography, just following those four short easy prompts. So everything’s easy and everything small, and everything’s very straightforward.

What’s good I think about doing this step with the four prompts is if you lose lift students at their own device to write their own biography, what they’ll do is they’ll, you know, they’ll talk about their buddies or their brother and sister, well I’ll talk about how they love beer and going out on the weekend. So it’s not really very professional, so keeping it professional. And then just taking those four sentences and then writing it up as a copy and pasting it in, then they’ve got their very first beginning for their for their profile or the About Me page, for their portfolio when they get to their final write up.

The idea is you’ve got the date there because that way it’s encouraging students to come back and have another look and say, oh, this is what I did in first year, first semester. I know so much more now that I’m in second year, let’s rewrite it. I can do a much better job now, and the same with the photo. So maybe they can pop a photo in first year.

It doesn’t really matter what they put in. But next year, perhaps when they look at it, they say, oh, well actually, I’ve got a much better image I could use now. To better show my professional skills. So going back to the course learning outcomes, So what we have there on the in the blue in the table is those the generic skills or the employability skills that are in every course for for science, and in fact every course for the university, really.

So what we’re getting to do is say, did you know these employability skills are that used in your course learning outcomes. So you have course learning outcomes, you can find them and this is what how they link in let’s find them now. So send them off, get them to find this information and paste it in to each of those ones. So they could see as they pasted number one, it comes up next to digital sorry, discipline knowledge.

And number two, it comes up to critical thinking. And number three, creating thinking, and they can see what the words are that are used in their discipline that relate to that employability skill. So it helps trigger those ideas of what it is that employers are going to be looking for for their area. It pops the popcorn.

Oh, they no. They need to copy it and paste it themselves. And in some ways, we would think it wouldn’t have been nice if it was already there, but I think it’s better that they go out and find it themselves because that is part of the learning. Is that they actually are looking for information and they can see it themselves.

And this is another Joe initiative. So this is on the careers tab. So we’ve got like at the top here we’ve got my profile which was the first page. My course was that the course learning outcomes are in there. Work experience. That’s their all their experiences, and my careers, which has the competencies in it, as well as this pay tier.

So in this page, so if you follow that link, it takes you to this skills page, which the government is run by the government. And what you can do is you can type in your job and then you it’ll come up with a set of skills that relate to your job that’s so when students are thinking, okay, these are the skills that my I’m getting from my course, and these are the skills that my employer is going it might be go go to ask me, so really think about doing those ones.

Okay. So what we do for each of those things is to build evidence and stories to go with each of those things. So for each of those outcomes, each of those eight outcomes, we have an opportunity to add your a story in the unit. So we go to the unit.

So there’s a unit every hopefully, a unit every semester or at least every year, where this the unit coordinator says, okay. So let’s talk about what we did in this unit, write about a story about when you worked on creative creative skills you know, when you so when you created something, when you build something, write your story to go with that. So again, it’s really simple. They do it in class and it’s easy.

Click some evidence, and tag it with the skill. So for example, this one was creative thinking, so tag it with creativity.

And then from an employment perspective, as they go through, think about times when you’ve actually used this skill out in a working environment, write a story about that, keep your evidence about that.

And then of all your different stories, look for one that you really love. It’s a really great example about how you can think creatively and do it as a star, and we’ve broken it down so it’s each of the different areas of a star reflection. And then you see right down the very bottom there where it says, your story. They can at the moment, just copy and paste that in, and they’ve got the basic beginning for their portfolio for each page of their portfolio because they’ve already written it up. And we hope they’ll change it later to make it even better.

Each of those things, they collect some evidence.

And then when they go to their collections page, then they come here and then they’ve got all their evidence that relates to all their stories that they’re able to select their best examples. And also to remind them, because they’ve got stories ago where these things they know what these are about so they can it triggers in their mind, oh, these are these things I can do. I can go back to my creativity page and grab my story from that.

This was about our team, which I won’t show it to your video, so you’ll have to watch it another time because we’re out of time.

But basically we got together with with Joe who put this video together, Ridge, who is a who works for Fortescue mining and he is he was a cybersecurity student.

Him and Harriet, who was the will coordinator, Harriet Mills, and we talked about it from the for the students’ perspective. Just introduction. So sorry, haven’t got time. Oh, haven’t really got time.

The final stage is to write up a portfolio And then you’ve so you can sit at the top of that section where each of those areas are. You would link these while we’re going to test into the students. They link these to the skills that the employer thought would be important. So this one’s got problem solving, thinking creatively, planning and and and prioritizing and digital literacy because they were the skills that were brought up.

And anything as well that they themselves may are special about them that otherwise might not have come up. So for myself, I put up inclusivity because that’s a big thing for me. So I popped up another one there. And what we really want students to do, as beginning, they’ll have their their basic content they’ve already got.

They come through here, make those connections, all that amazing stuff they could do and put it together in a way that will make sense to them and that they can share great stuff with their future employer. And most importantly, take ownership of their own experience and make it about them and not just about some random job that’s possibly done the future, but that’s just about, you know, their own experience.

And that is on. So just thanks to all those people who’ve been involved, and that’s a picture of us getting cake.



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