A Draft Framework of Graduate Attributes
As an AshokaU Changemaker Campus, the University of Northampton is looking at ways to ensure that all our students have an opportunity to understand for themselves what it means to be a Changemaker and opportunities to explore ways of actively engaging with Changemaking through their degree programmes. This is happening through the Changemaker in the Curriculum project (EmbedCM). At its simplest, ‘Changemaking is simply where someone spots a social problem and does something about it.’
Alongside our work on Changemaker, the University Centre for Employability and Engagement (UCEE) launched its Employability Plus initiative to all students in September 2014. Employability Plus is a blended employability offering that encourages students to actively and consciously develop their lifelong learning skills through extra- and co-curricular experiences including paid work, volunteering and reflections on their curriculum-based work and projects.
Both these strands are coming together in our ChANGE Project. ChANGE (Changemaking Attributes at Northampton for Graduate Employability) is a student-centred project that looks at the skills, capabilities and behaviours we want to help our students develop during their studies at Northampton in addition to gaining core subject knowledge and understanding. It seeks to enhance our existing key skills framework by aligning our articulation of Changemaker attributes in our curriculum framework with those from Employability Plus, thereby providing a consistency for students in the attributes they develop whether within or beyond our curricula.
The Graduate Attributes Framework
The Institute of Learning and Teaching at Northampton, the Learning Design Team, UCEE and our school-based Learning and Teaching Co-ordinators, have developed the following draft graduate attribute statement and framework:
The University of Northampton is committed to developing knowledgeable graduates, who are socially responsible, digitally proficient and highly employable global citizens – the Changemakers of the future.
Each of the bullet points on the diagram, as well as the central ‘positive work ethic’ area are our core employability skills. We have drafted statements at Level 6 (undergraduate honours degree award level) for each of the coloured groupings as well as more detailed statements for each attribute. The statements themselves not only define the attributes, but also incorporate previous work defining what it means to be a Changemaker at Northampton. This is crucial if we are to develop attributes rather than skills and to genuinely engage our learners with social innovation and Changemaking activities.
For example, our four draft headline statements at Level 6 are:
Direction and Strategy – Do the right things
On completion of Level 6, our students use evidence, analysis and critical reflection to achieve and encourage others to generate positive, values-driven impact for themselves and their communities.
Change Generation – Do things right
On completion of Level 6, our students are socially responsible problem solvers, who apply knowledge of their chosen field to identify, create, promote and manage opportunities for positive change.
On completion of Level 6, our students learn and create effectively and collaboratively through meaningful professional connections with others, in physical and digital contexts.
Positive work ethic, integrity and values
The actions and behaviours of our Level 6 students are driven by an awareness of personal values motivating them to achieve sustainable social impact.
We are in the process of developing the framework further to provide outcome statements at each of the remaining academic levels (4, 5, 7 and 8) as well as develop a toolkit to assist staff in writing programme and module learning outcomes that reflect Changemaking at Northampton in an employability context. We also seek to develop suggestions for learning activities and assessments at each level that would make learner engagement with Changemaker focused on transformational learning, leadership and positive change.
Dr Rachel Maxwell
Prof Alejandro Armellini
Institute of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education
University of Northampton