Changing perceptions underpinning graduate attributes: A pilot study

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 33 : Reshaping Higher Education

July, 2010, 654 pages
Published by
M. Devlin, J. Nagy and A. Lichtenberg
0 908557 80 9

The research discussed in this paper presents the preliminary findings of a comparative analysis of graduate attributes statements across Australian universities. Specifically, it addresses the change over fifteen years through a thematic and word frequency analysis of institutional definitions of and justifications for graduate attributes. An analysis of the scholarship around graduate attributes demonstrates four broad conceptions of their purpose: employability; lifelong learning; preparing for an uncertain future; and acting for the social good. Our findings reveal the emergence of a further three conceptions in the last five years: adapting to change, promoting change and community leadership. This is aligned with a shift in emphasis towards community and participation. This research demonstrates a number of assumptions embedded in attribute statements concerning the primacy of the individual, the future of work and life, and the privileging of particular moral and ideological perspectives or values.

Keywords: graduate attributes, graduate capabilities, student outcomes