Understanding how Undergraduate Students Engage with Career Development Education.

Flynn, Emma (2020) Understanding how Undergraduate Students Engage with Career Development Education.


The purpose of this paper is to understand how undergraduate students engage with career development. The Smarter World, Smarter Work Campaign, initiated by IBEC in 2018, was used as a framework to underpin the foundation of this research - to what extent do students understand the importance of career development education and how it relates to their own personal career journey?
This report highlights the importance of career management throughout the life cycle of a person’s
career. This study takes the current literature that exists and adds to the conversation using primary
research conducted with final year undergraduate students and lecturers delivering career development.
Based on the research questions proposed and the purpose of the study the following three strands were used as the focus for the research: 1. How students engage with career development?
2. At what stage do students begin to connect the classroom learning with their own career
3. Can student engagement be enhanced with the use of specific learning theories in the delivery
of career development?
A mixed methods approach was used to gather data. A student survey (quantitative) and semi-structured interviews with lecturers (qualitative) were conducted. Surveys were chosen as they can be used to gather data to understand peoples’ interests and beliefs (Rea and Parker 2014). Semi-structured interviews were chosen as they increase the comprehensiveness of the data collected and
allow gaps to be identified and closed (Patton 1980, p. 206).
The author identified a gap where students entered third level with the view to gaining employment post-graduation but did not always engage with career development or see the benefit in engaging with it. Both the literature and the primary research pointed to institutions holding an assumption that the student had already made a decision on their career path before starting their third level
journey when many had not. The study makes a number of recommendations to Higher Education to bridge the gap between the move from second to third level and how best to guide undergraduate students in their career
development and give them the tools to manage their career journey throughout its’ life cycle.

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