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Neither ‘bolt-on’ nor ‘built-in’ : benefits and challenges of developing an integrated skills curriculum through a partnership model

Cairns, J. G., Hervey, T. ORCID: 0000-0002-8310-9022 and Johnson, O. (2018). Neither ‘bolt-on’ nor ‘built-in’ : benefits and challenges of developing an integrated skills curriculum through a partnership model. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, 13, doi: 10.47408/jldhe.v0i13.435

Abstract

All universities are seeking to develop their students’ skills. Typically, they deploy either or both an independent ‘skills’ offering, separate from disciplinary learning (‘bolt-on’); and/or individual academic staff embedding skills assessment in some modules (‘built-in’). What are the drawbacks of ‘bolt-on’ and ‘built-in’? To what extent does a partnership model, involving an integrated and longitudinal skills curriculum, resolve those drawbacks? Under what circumstances is this possible? What are the main barriers? We present a case study of a major curriculum development in the School of Law at the University of Sheffield to argue that the benefits of partnership probably outweigh either ‘bolt-on’ or ‘built-in’. However, some of the enablers and inhibitors associated with contemporary higher education (HE) may suggest that ‘built-in’ is more viable. This is not primarily because of the difficulties of engaging academic disciplinary specialists; rather it is better explained by structural and institutional rigidities. We therefore recommend courage to take a long view, to aim high, and to celebrate small successes.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: skills; employability; student partnership; reflective practice
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Departments: The City Law School > Academic Programmes
The City Law School > Institute for the Study of European Laws
Date available in CRO: 22 Apr 2021 12:36
Date deposited: 22 April 2021
Date of first online publication: 21 May 2018
URI: https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/26019
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