Exploring attitudes, beliefs and practices of academic staff towards undergraduate career development in non-vocational courses

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Abstract

Career development is an essential component of graduate employability, particularly for students undertaking degree programs that are not aligned to a specific vocational outcome. For undergraduate career development to be effective, it should be embedded into the curriculum and involve the academic teaching staff. This approach enhances the relationships between academics and students, and improves student course engagement. Thus, it is imperative that we understand academics’ perceptions and current teaching practices associated with their students’ career development as we strategize how to better prepare graduates for work. This research explored the views of academics on supporting their students’ career development in three non-vocational undergraduate health science degree programs (Biomedical Science, Nutritional Science and Psychology) at an Australian university. A constructionist qualitative inquiry framework was utilised, with semi-structured focus groups. Framework thematic analysis was utilised for the focus group transcripts. Three major themes (attitudes and beliefs, teaching and learning approaches, and challenges), and ten sub-themes were identified. Similar views identified across academics included that students’ careers education should be the responsibility of all university staff as well as the students, that academics have limited knowledge of the employment outcomes of their graduates, and that employability skills development should be embedded into the curriculum. There were divergent views on the expertise of academics to provide careers advice, with academics in two degree programs lacking confidence with careers advising as they had limited employment experience beyond research and teaching. This research provides insight into academics’ views and attitudes about supporting their students’ career development and has broader implications for curricular development and academic roles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)885-900
Number of pages16
JournalHigher Education Research & Development
Volume40
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • academic
  • careers
  • Graduate employability
  • non-vocational
  • undergraduate

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