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March/April 2020

Employability skills underdeveloped in science subjects

Generic skills are the key skills and capabilities transferable to a wide range of tasks and contexts beyond the university setting (e.g. communication, critical thinking, team-working). As in many disciplines, the importance of generic skills for science graduates’ employability is well reported in the literature, from perspectives of policymakers to those of employers and graduates. While a considerable body of research has been explored on students’, recent graduates’ and employers’ perspectives of generic skills, the perspectives of science academics – the catalysts for inculcating such skills – appear to have been largely ignored. In order to address this gap in the scholarly literature, Mahbub Sarkar, Tina Overton, Christopher Thompson and Gerry Rayner studied the perspectives of science academics at an Australian and a UK university regarding the promotion of generic skills in the subjects they teach (High. Educ. Res. Dev. 2019, The study found that many generic skills (e.g. leadership, adaptability, commercial awareness, and ICT skills) were neither developed nor assessed in a large number of science subjects, with several large development–assessment gaps. Academics reinforced calls for a shift from traditional content-focused transmissive pedagogies to more problem-based open-inquiry approaches along with incorporating work-integrated learning and embedding reflection into pedagogy and assessment practices for promoting the generic skills employers increasingly demand from science graduates.

Compiled by Reyne Pullen MRACI CChem ( This section showcases exciting chemistry education research carried out primarily in Australia. RACI members whose recent work has been published in prominent chemistry education journals (e.g. Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., J. Chem. Educ., J. Res. Sci. Teach.) are encouraged to contribute general summaries, of no more than 200 words, and an image to Reyne.

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