Teaching generic skills : promoting an innovative pedagogy
The challenge that confronts the university lecturer is how to instil generic skills effectively. The traditional approach is either to “teach” such skills or merely to assess them. Often this assessment takes place with little tuition or guidance. The unfortunate fact is that in most cases very little “teaching” of generic skills actually occurs but considerable assessing takes place.This chapter describes a longitudinal study of an innovative approach taken with postgraduate classes which proved to be effective. In this instance, a teaching team adopted an interactive approach to learning through “modelling” rather than “teaching” the skills. The modelling approach taken has its foundations in social learning theory (Kreitner & Luthans, 1984), using a revised organisational behaviour modification model. The team membership incorporated diversity in terms of culture, gender, age and academic discipline.The outcome of the “modelling” approach was that students believed that they had achieved skills at levels that they had not achieved in other courses. This belief was consistent with their final assessment results. The students’ personal success has lent support to the effectiveness of using a “modelling” approach. It also provides substantive evidence as to its generalisability, as the majority of the students were international students representing at least 15 countries in each class. While the team-teaching approach can be resource intensive and expensive, the demands and expectations of industry suggest that team teaching and “modelling” could be the answer to a number of issues associated with student expectations. These can range from a heavy emphasis on accommodating the student “client” to the lecturer’s desired outcomes, to the university’s graduate attributes, to the employer’s expectation of the skills with which students will graduate.