Competency-based Feedback for the Improvement of Employment Outcomes for Computing Students

Palmer-Brown, Dominic, Cai, Fang Fang and Patel, Preeti (2016) Competency-based Feedback for the Improvement of Employment Outcomes for Computing Students. In: IEEE International Conference on Computational Science and Computational Intelligence, 15-17 Dec 2016, USA.


Much of modern education is steeped in the acquisition of skills that will strengthen the employability prospects of learners. The concept of work-readiness has come to mean framing the academic curriculum with as many opportunities for gaining the experience of work as possible and thereby developing those professional skills that industry demands of new Computing graduates. This has led to, among other provisions, the embedding of work-related, work-based and project-based components into the academic curriculum for which newer forms of assessment and feedback are necessary. This paper reports on a study conducted with a cohort of Computing students whose degree includes an embedded final year work-related learning (WRL) module. Findings from a previous pilot study highlighted the severe lack of awareness and understanding on the part of students for competency building. In order to tackle this deficiency, this current work employs an adapted competency framework, developmental feedback and self-evaluation tools for direct use on the work-related learning module. This powerful combination of tools results in significant improvement in students’ perceptions regarding their competencies with overall module performance also increasing significantly. More importantly, it has been possible, through cluster analysis and dimension reduction, to optimise the competency framework to a condensed form which can be readily utilised throughout the work experience.

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