conference education health research

SAAHE keynote – What generic skills do students bring with them?

This is the presentation from Professor Debbie Murdoch-Eaton.

What impacts do we have on students life ambitions?

Workers with general / transferable skills are better placed to succeed in a global knowledge economy. The skills need not be specific to the discipline

The attributes are not only about economic drivers i.e. getting a job…they are also about enabling people to be more successful in communities / life

We do need to develop specific skills that are course specific, but also more generic skills like communication and interpersonal skills, higher order reasoning, critical thinking, ability to use tech, etc.

Why do you go to university, if not to train the mind?

There needs to be a social agenda within the institution in terms of implementing generic skills (or graduate attributes, depending on who you’re reading)

Are clinical skills generic? If so, which ones? Maybe; enterprise, management, leadership, probity, altruism

Transferability is a key skill, helps to contextualise practice

Students are coming into UK HE with lower technical and numeracy skills, written presentation, and selecting and utilising information, but increased practice in IT skills, stress management

No change in student’s ability to manage their own learning (working with others, seeking and giving feedback, teamwork, taking responsibility for own learning), presentation skills (verbal communication skills, essay writing), time management and self-organisation

Does any of this matter? Might be course dependent. It has implications for course / curriculum design and student support

Huge gap between UK and SA student generic skills (e.g. email use, managing own learning). Demonstrated how longitudinal studies of student generic skills on entering HE can be used to make decisions about curriculum design for those students.

Is the curriculum additive (additional to the discipline) or transformative?

Generic skills can be developed by being remedial (by identifying students with deficits in skills) or associated (for all students, running alongside normal curriculum but additional and separate), or part of discipline content and process, engagement / participatory

Integrating lifelong learning into the curriculum should develop explicit generic skills that incorporate structured opportunities to practice those skills

Skills can be inferred from behaviour, which is subjective and we need to be aware that the observer (teacher) has a vested interest into what skills are being inferred

“Those who are least able are also least able to self-assess accurately”

Generic skills must be embedded into the discipline’s teaching methods rather than being bolted on

“We cannot teach science that is as yet undiscovered, nor can we forecast it’s future implications”

We have to educate doctors who are capable of adaptation and change

By Michael Rowe

I'm a lecturer in the Department of Physiotherapy at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. I'm interested in technology, education and healthcare and look for places where these things meet.