Professional skill development in Australian universities: Is there a bias?

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Quality Conversations Vol. 25

July, 2002, 794 pages
Published by
Tony Herrington
0 908557 54 X

Against the backdrop of the internationalisation of education, educational institutions have experienced a significant transformation of their student body that renders it almost impossible to consider and address students as a homogeneous group. At the same time there is universal acceptance from stakeholders that graduates need to be equipped with both professional skills and relevant academic content. To address this aspect, most educational institutions encourage the development of some form of skills in their programs of study. Notwithstanding this, skill development at Australian universities may be at risk of being biased towards Australian students due to the cultural base on which skills are identified, developed and integrated into programs. As part of the Curtin Business School Professional Skills Program, the first author successfully won a grant to support the development of students’ presentation and written communication skills in his third year management unit. These skills were selected based on the lecturer’s previous experiences of teaching the unit which showed a significant variation in student skill levels, especially between Australian and non-Australian resident students. Thus, opportunities for students to develop these skills were integrated into the unit and data on students’ perceptions of their skill development were obtained at the beginning and end of the unit. In this paper, we present the data on the changes in students’ perceptions of their skill levels, and discuss the implications for teaching and assessing the skills in the context of a diverse student body .

Keywords: Professional skill development, multiculturalism

Professional skill development in Australian universities: Is there a bias?

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Soontiens, W. & de la Harpe, B.