Friday, 6 November 2015

Embedding the KUSP and iLM Accreditation into a Programme, by Sharon George and Jayne Eagles

The MSc in Environmental Sustainability & Green Technology is a one-year interdisciplinary programme spanning science and technology, politics and social science comprising a range of taught modules and a research project.

The students are from a wide range of backgrounds, home countries and career maturity. They have a wealth of academic, personal and professional experiences that have contributed to their skills, knowledge and attitudes to date - and have also (maybe) uncovered a need for further personal development in one or more area(s).

The Keele University Skills Portfolio offered two things to this Programme - a set of useful templates to help students to reflect on their experiences - and a student-friendly ‘KUSP Workbook’ to capture and document these reflections.

The iLM Accreditation was the ‘icing on the cake’ since this gave the students recognition and endorsement, from the nationally recognised Institute of Leadership & Management, for their successfully completed KUSP.

Embedding the KUSP into the Programme was a relatively easy task. We started by introducing the concept of the KUSP in Week 1 of the overall Programme and time was set aside in a related module (Research and Business Skills) to discuss specific iLM themed reflections at the end of existing skills development sessions e.g time management & project planning, and team working & leadership (see diagram below). We then also offered KUSP ‘clinic mornings’, where students could book a half hour slot for some one-to-one coaching on their work. Finally, a message of encouragement (and offer of support) was done through the cohort Facebook page. For consistency during this pilot all portfolios were moderated by the module leader.

The result? An outstanding 47% of the cohort successfully completed their KUSP and received their certificates upon graduation.

Lessons learnt? No matter how much support you offer - there is always the need for more! We will be stepping through the completion process more thoroughly with students in the coming academic year - and ensuring that the first reflection that they do is a formative task that they submit and receive feedback on. The standard of reflections completed last year was variable, and some students did not comply with the KUSP Workbook formatting which made difficult for them to meet the criteria that had been set. Knowledge of the KUSP among personal tutors was variable - so training (via a demonstration) was given on how to access and mark the portfolios.

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Embedding the KUSP and iLM Accreditation into a Programme by Sharon George and Jayne Eagles, Keele University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.