Science students develop multiple employability literacies from large, early-year courses without employability modules




Concerns have been raised about the employability of Science graduates, however undergraduate Science curricula rarely focus on building employability. Our goal is to harness existing Science-focused curricula to improve Science graduate employability. In this study we asked whether students could identify learning of employability literacies from their experiences in undergraduate Science courses that do not explicitly teach employability literacies. To address these questions, we employed a short reflective activity in three large first year courses; these courses focused on scientific content and processes, and did not include employability modules. We asked students to choose an employability literacy from a menu and describe how components of the course prompted them to develop this literacy. Students chose a wide variety of literacies and linked their development to multiple aspects of their course experience. They also consistently indicated they had achieved multiple literacies from their course. Course coordinators highlighted the strength-based quality of the reflections, which differed from the usual course evaluation comments given by students. Coordinators who used the reflection activity in the first year were eager to continue in subsequent semesters and years. This mechanism gives students and staff the opportunity to understand the wide and varied opportunities for employability skill development that already exist in undergraduate Science courses. The approach does not require course teaching amendments or student skill-building instruction. This study shows that students can achieve multiple employability literacies from early-year courses, and raises new possibilities around how we can boost students’ understanding and development of their employability.


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Author Biographies

  • Lauren Carpenter, The University of Queensland

    Lauren Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Biomedical Science with Honours Class 1 from The University of Queensland. She is now a PhD candidate in Science Education at The University of Queensland.

  • Sophie Hubbard, The University of Queensland

    Sophie Hubbard holds a Bachelor of Science with Honours Class 1 from The University of Queensland. She was an Honours Student in the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences at the time this work was conducted.

  • Scout Basinski, The University of Queensland

    Scout Basinski holds a Bachelor of Science (Data Analytics) from The Ohio State University. She is now a Data Scientist at Aware. At the time this work was conducted she was completing an exchange program at The University of Queensland.

  • Susan Rowland, The University of Sydney
    Prof Rowland is currently Vice-Provost at The University of Sydney. At the time this work was conducted, she was Associate Dean Academic and Deputy Executive Dean for Faculty of Science at The University of Queensland.


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How to Cite

Science students develop multiple employability literacies from large, early-year courses without employability modules. (2024). Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 15(1), 66-90.