Full paper Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Developing career aspirations of Information Technology students at Deakin University (#83)

Sophie McKenzie 1 , Jo Coldwell 1 , Stuart Palmer 1
  1. Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, VICTO, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

It is important for students to develop informed and realistic career aspirations to gain the most value from their university studies towards their initial career development. However developing a student’s career aspirations, goals, and expectations is a complex and discipline-specific process. In the discipline of Information Technology (IT) no clear career development framework is evident in the literature. Recent research in Australia argues that electronic portfolios are a useful way for students to develop, articulate and document career objectives to enhance their employability. IT students at Deakin engage in formal training and assessment with respect to developing their professional skills and career understandings. Currently electronic portfolios feature as a useful method for evidencing professional competencies for employability. Through a combined quantitative and qualitative analysis of 330 students’ articulated current career aspirations, qualitative analysis of 7 staff opinions of desired student career competencies, and a quantitative analysis of 29 students’ current work personality traits assessments, this work presents an analysis of the current state of students’ career development in IT at Deakin University. The results largely indicate that students do not have any clear short- or long-term career goals, and require assistance and structure to engage them in the career development process. This research will influence a larger program-wide endeavour to build student career competencies for employability in IT at Deakin University.

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

This paper directly addresses the conference sub-theme ‘Educating graduates to be responsive and adaptable professionals’. Providing curriculum, learning activities and assessment that can build students’ skills for employability is a key issue. While this issue is not new, finding the appropriate ways to achieve this across the disciplines is a challenge. Within IT, it is known that there is a skills shortage; with industry reporting graduates are exiting university without the required skills for effective employment. The dynamic and ever-changing world of IT requires students to possess not only particular current technical skills, but also the professional skills to adapt and respond to changing technological developments. This paper presents stage one of a multistage project which is building a framework to better support students in their career development during their studies at Deakin University.

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