21st Century Employability Goals of Higher Education: Aligning Authentic Learning Goals of Courses and Self-Determination of Students

Project: Other

Project Details


Employability Goals of Higher Education: Aligning Authentic Learning Goals of Courses and Self-Determination of Students

Md. Saifuddin Khalid, Lars Elbæk
University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark

The continuous change in social, business, technological, and academic landscapes and other factors are making the employment of higher education graduates more competitive. Andrews and Higson (2008) suggest that higher educational institutions must improve the employability, work readiness, and mobility of their graduates by including employability activities for their graduate students by focusing on interpersonal competencies (i.e. “soft skills”) as well as “hard skills”. Towards this goal, a university-funded project was conducted during August 2018-2019 titled. The questions were, 1) how might we understand employability skills expectations by students, teachers, and prospective employers in the sports and design field? 2) how might we design activities and tools to facilitate the alignment of authentic learning goals of courses and self-determination of students. Applying a design thinking process, a 15-ECTS sports and design course of the sports and health program at the university of Southern Denmark was selected for the pilot project. To empathize, using empathy map canvas, in-depth interviews were conducted with former year’s teachers, students, and four external partners cum clients of the course’s design projects. Under define activities, analysis of interviews showed that the students had difficulty in articulating the authentic learning experiences and the knowledge and skills gained. To understand personal and career goals, based on the interviews with former years’ students, 1) three student personas were identified with overlapping goals: to become an employee/entrepreneur, work-life balance employee, an ambitious employee. 2) Four employer narratives were developed regarding skills desired from new hires and given to the students to align with the course’s goals and personal learning goals. Based on ideation and co-creation with the teachers and two former students, the employer narratives were discussed in the class, facilitated the creation of LinkedIn profile and persona on xtensio to state the authentic learning experience and reflect on personal development factors, 3) a workshop was facilitated by a Jungian Type Index (JTI) personality test expert for reflecting on personal preferences and individual differences, 4. A questionnaire for student development talks with teachers is developed, and one former student and a course teacher facilitated the talk using the questionnaire, 5) a personal development portfolio for daily or weekly reflection, and 6) a personal development and self-assessment questionnaire was developed and tested during a workshop with entrepreneurship teachers network. 7. A skill matrix was developed by the teachers for students as a tool to articulate knowledge, skills and competencies in employment-related communication. The evaluation with students shows that their central goal of being the exam score and the course project deliverable as the measure of success broadly eliminates reflection on the elements of learning for employability, mapping into 21st century skills, and alignment with personal goals.

The developed tools and design of activities are expected to be suitable in the educational culture of Nordic educational institutions and Nordic educational research on students’ personal development, entrepreneurship and design education, and facilitating the value-realization.
Effective start/end date01/01/201831/12/2019


  • Employability
  • Entrepreneurship Education
  • Educational Philosophy
  • Educational Development
  • Pedagogy


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