Below are the slides from our 2018 Assessment Institute presentation on Assessing Learners’ Essential Employability Qualities, featuring the experiences and practices of two of our EEQ Pilot partners – University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Joan Cook and Brandman University’s Laurie Dodge.
Employabilityisthe ability to find, create and sustain work and learning across lengthening working lives and multiple work settings.
EEQ Development & Assessment
Degree programs intentionally designed to develop, address, and assess expected EEQ exit proficiencies so there is assurance that all students will graduate from the program fully prepared.
Applied research projects designed to addresses real problems in a partner employer’s organizations.
Course-embedded community service projects that allow students to directly apply their learning to real community needs.
Specific assignments designed so that students can learn content while also practicing different EEQs (e.g., written proposals, presentations, team-based formats, etc.).
Experiential learning pathways that allow students to apply their learning in work-relevant situations at several points throughout a program.
Team-based capstone projects situated in workplaces and co-taught with employers.
Classes co-taught with employers; employers involved in directly assessing student work.
Career Development, Planning, and Support
Courses intentionally designed to support students in understanding the world of work and its expectations.
Career development programming integrated across the curriculum and over time, such as embedded career planning activities in courses.
Guest speakers from industries and organizations embedded in courses to engage students in considering industry or organization-specific career possibilities.
A cross-campus integrated approach to career preparedness through civic engagement.
Enhanced student records that convey students’ EEQ development and outcomes in visually accessible and appealing ways.
Competency-based badging practices that communicate students’ abilities in visible, verifiable ways.
Employer engagement models that go well beyond a traditional Advisory Board into authentic partnerships, or even “employer-attached” curriculum and pedagogy (where employers serve as co-faculty and assessors of student work).
Employers and programs working together to develop and test new approaches, such as badging, developing talent pipelines through partnerships, and work-integrated learning modules.
Graduate / Alumni Feedback
Use of findings from well-designed alumni surveys, which address not only program satisfaction but also graduates’ sense of preparedness for employment, graduate employment outcomes, and feedback for program improvement.
Purposeful inclusion of alumni who employ program graduates into advisory boards or other feedback mechanisms.
We’re grateful to our partner programs for their contributions to this work! Read the full EEQ CERT Pilot Finding Report HERE.
In early June, The QA Commons concluded the Essential Employability Qualities Certification (EEQ CERT) Pilot, in which we partnered with 27 programs from 14 colleges and universities to co-design a new approach to assuring that graduates are prepared for the 21st century world of work. Key aspects of this initiative include addressing quality as well as equity gaps in learning and preparation:
We know that high-quality credentials beyond high school can transform lives — that they open doors to economic opportunity and social mobility and help individuals flourish in a challenging world. But we also know that not everyone who pursues learning beyond high school actually gets a high-quality experience. Too few even get to the finish line and earn a credential. And some who do, still struggle to find employment and succeed in today’s workplace.
Quality Assurance Commons and the EEQs will help address this gap. They also will help institutions make good on an equally urgent promise of closing equity gaps in access to quality experiences and in post-graduation outcomes. QA Commons pilot efforts and other research show that far too few institutions gather and use enough good data on how well their students learn and how they fare after graduation. Moreover, even when collecting data, far too few institutions disaggregate their data to uncover hidden inequities in access to quality experiences — especially across different racial/ethnic groups.
As a result of analyzing the Inventories of Practice and Evidence that all 27 EEQ CERT pilot programs submitted, The QA Commons’ team is happy to publicly release a substantial revision to the draft Criteria for EEQ Certification. This new version — version 2 — will be tested during phase 2 of the pilot co-design process in spring 2018, when programs submit program portfolios of evidence. Please feel free to a look and offer any comments for consideration in the comments box below:
The Quality Assurance Commons is working with 27 programs from 14 higher educational institutions to co-design and pilot a new approach to program-level quality assurance that focuses on developing students’ Essential Employability Qualities (EEQs). These EEQs include:
People skills such as collaboration, teamwork and cross-cultural competence;
Problem-solving abilities such as inquiry, critical thinking and creativity; and
Professional strengths such as communication, work ethic and technological agility.
We have several research questions guiding this work, which we are addressing together during the pilot process, including:
Do the draft criteria reflect the needs of students and employers and support program effectiveness?
What are the most relevant and useful indicators of success for each criterion?
What data are publically available, relevant, and useful in identifying program performance and outcomes vis-à-vis the criteria?
What is the best way to validate and evaluate data provided by an institution or program?
What are the best ways to connect program outcomes with institutional support services, such as career services, student advising, etc.?
In what ways will the quality assurance process provide value to institutions and programs while not creating additional reporting burdens?
How can EEQ Certification communicate program quality and performance successfully to students, employers, community members, and other external stakeholders as well as to the institution and/or program being reviewed?
How might the certification approach best be aligned with other quality assurance processes, such as program reviews and regional, national, and programmatic accreditation?
We are also exploring the delicate but essential balance between developing a rigorous process so that a certification can be meaningful to employers and students with the reality of programs’ capacity.
What other questions should we try to address as we work with our partner programs to develop this approach? Let us know in the comments below!
The EEQ Graduate Profile also represents current and future employer expectations as reflected in numerous studies, such as those completed by Burning Glass, LinkedIn, ACT, the Foresight Alliance, Jobs for the Future, Career Tech, the Business Roundtable, O*NET, third way, National Network of Business and Industry Associations, and the Institute for the Future, to name a few.
Foundation framework and reinforcing steel for 150-ton permanent cableway hoist house from the construction of Hoover Dam – from Wikimedia Commons
Of particular note about using frameworks is this paragraph from Holly’s piece:
Of course, the learning framework is only the foundation, the first step to building a strong house for all credentials, both in education and in workforce training. It’s also important to remember that blueprints can be used to design multiple houses ─ each with different features. The blueprint is a foundation, a starting point, not a rigid “cookie-cutter” tool that eliminates appropriate differences and variations among credentialing pathways.
The QA Commons’ EEQ Graduate Profile will be reviewed and refined as part of the EEQ Certification pilot in the 2017-18 academic year. We are looking forward to partnering with our pilot programs to learn how such competencies map to their existing program or course outcomes, how pilot programs address and assess them, the most compelling evidence of graduates’ readiness accordingly, and what employers and students have to say about them. From there, we hope to realize a blueprint, in the way that Holly describes, to reflect the essential employability qualities we all need to thrive in and contribute to the ever-changing 21st century world of work.