‘But is this relevant for the assignment?’ A case study analysis of embedding and enhancing employability and enterprise skills in student assessment. Reflective observations and lessons learned.

The notion of graduate attributes is not a recent phenomenon, rather it is a long-held expectation that our student emerge from their higher education experience with the requisite skills to enable them to become a valued member of society. In recent times, such attributes have been articulated through government and expert reports as well as justifications from the employers themselves as to the skills they require of graduates in their employ. Many of these so-called ‘soft skills’ can be difficult to quantify in concrete terms and are often acquired as a result of process rather than product in pedagogical terms. In an era where students are increasingly asserting their consumer rights with regards to the product they are purchasing often the process element is somewhat neglected in favour of the actual result. ‘But is this relevant for the assignment?’ is a frequent cry of many an undergraduate much to the dismay of the academic whose words of wisdom regarding the relevance of the topic at hand to future personal development frequently often falls on deaf ears.

This paper seeks to present a case study analysis of attempts to embed employability and enterprise skills into student assessment at an undergraduate level within an Education Studies programme. Challenges and perceptions of the efficacy of such an approach will be considered and reflective observations explored as to the key considerations when utilising such methods. Conclusions drawn from student comments and graduate accounts confirm that while there certainly is worth in developing such a strategy, nevertheless a carefully structured approach is required to enable expectations to be managed and that the quality of the student experience is enhanced and not hindered.