The Building of a Professional: Scaffolding Capabilities into a Degree

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The skills required by a student to excel both academically and in their chose professional careers has been identified by many institutions, and can be referred to as ‘generic capabilities’. These generic capabilities can extend from interpersonal skills, problem solving, oral communication and career skills. In recent years concerns have been raised about a gap emerging between graduate attributes developed in university degrees and what industry requires (Yap, 1997; Albrecht and Sack, 2000). This is often referred to as a lack of ‘employment readiness’ of students and the need to engage industry with students and the curriculum. Such a concern was highlighted in the 2007 report titled ‘Graduate Employability Skills’ prepared for the Business, Industry and Higher Education Collaboration Council. While work integrated learning attempts to address this issue, it is questionable how successful this is if students are not adequately prepared prior to their placement.

To address this concern a Professional Development Program (the ‘PD Program’) was developed. The PD Program is integrated into a Business Degree and is designed to systematically develop students’ learning, employment and generic skills and supplements their theoretical studies. It is argued that this integration of the PD Program permeating the Degree enhances students’ generic capabilities.

This paper details the procedures that have been developed, and provides preliminary evidence on the impact of the PD Program in the first year of delivery and compares this with a control group from another campus without this program. We argue that integrating professional skills and awareness systematically into an undergraduate degree in partnership with industry will develop students’ generic capabilities and improve their employment readiness. We examine the effectiveness of our PD Program from the perspective of students and industry partners in this regard, as to whether it has assisted in the building of a ‘professional’.

Keywords: Generic Capabilities, Work Integrated Learning, Professional Skills, Academic Skills
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , Building of a Professional, The,

Dr. Brett Freudenberg

Senior Lecturer - Taxation, Griffith Business School, Griffith University
Meadowbrook, Queensland, Australia

Brett Freudenberg is a currently a Senior Lecturer at the Griffith Business School within the Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics at Griffith University (Australia). In addition to his taxation teaching, Brett is enrolled in a PhD focusing on Tax Transparent Companies. In 2006 Brett received the Fulbright Award, which saw him conduct research at the University of Illinois to analyse the proliferation of new business forms in the United States and their potential for application to Australian businesses. Brett has received a number of teaching accolades, including most recently in 2008 a teaching citation from the Australian Learning & Teaching Council for his outstanding contributions to student learning. In 2007, he was part of a team that was awarded Griffith University’s “Excellence in Teaching for Programs that Enhance Learning Category”; and individually Brett received a “Certification of Commendation for Excellence in Teaching”. Previously, in 2005 he was jointly awarded a Griffith Business School Teaching Citation and in 2003 Brett received the Early Career Award for Teaching Excellence from Griffith University. He has pursued the scholarship of learning and has presented his research at number of teaching conferences, as well as publishing in refereed teaching journals.

Assoc. Prof. Mark Brimble

Senior Lecturer, Griffith Business School, Griffith University
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Craig Cameron

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Ref: L09P1137