Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research
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Exploring science and engineering stakeholder views of the essential competencies for the 21st century workplace

Project Leaders: Dr Elaine Khoo & Karsten Zegwaard Researcher: Dr Mira Peter Research Assistant: Aminath Adam Project Mentor: Professor Bronwen Cowie

Project Dates: January 2017- December 2017

Project background

This study is a collaboration between the Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research (WMIER) and Cooperative Education Unit at the University of Waikato. The project is partly funded by the University of Waikato Strategic Investment Fund(SIF) 2017 fund and intends to research multiple science and engineering stakeholders’ (employers, recent student alumni, current students and lecturers) perceptions of the graduate competencies and dispositions essential for students to be successful in today’s complex and dynamic workplace settings. Using a mixed-method approach, the research will scope stakeholders’ views of student work-readiness, identify current and future important graduate competencies, and, explore how stakeholders think student learning can be better supported at the university and at the workplace. The findings will inform university curricula, teaching-learning and assessment, and ensure the relevancy of papers offered as part of the (re)design of university papers and graduate work-readiness initiatives.

Why is this research important

This project will draw from Zegwaard and colleagues' (2002) original study on science and engineering employers’ perspectives on the important workplace competencies and associated rationales for these competencies as well as their perceptions on how to better prepare students for today’s workplaces. The results will shed light on how the current preparation of science and engineering students are meeting employers expectations, provide feedback on future shifts employers see, and allow the Cooperative Education Unit to use this information to modify current paper content delivery and learning activities in terms of student work-readiness.

How will this research help to inform others?

The overall aim of the research is to survey science and engineering stakeholder perceptions of the competencies and dispositions science and engineering students need to be successful in the workplace and to inform University curriculum (re)development and teaching and assessment approaches. To this end, stakeholder views on the extent to which university teaching-learning strategies are productive in preparing students for the workplace, views on current and future competencies important for students to be successful in the workplace, and their suggestions for enhancing current curriculum, pedagogy and assessment will be sought.

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