The Banking unit is an optional Year 2 and 3 unit for various undergraduate programmes in the Business School, with approximately 80 students in 2021/22. Formative assessment requires students to work in groups from the outset, completing group tutorial work and regularly presenting back. The final four weeks involve a summatively assessed group coursework, where students respond to the question of how to ‘make banking better’. This allows students to change perspectives and be creative. After learning about role of banks in the economy, bank balance sheets and bank data, they use their knowledge to suggest improvements. Some students propose novel business models, some work on policy changes and others improve banking apps. Allowing for the different types of proposals caters to the heterogeneous interests in the group. They respond via formal verbal presentations in groups and submit a presentation file.
As most units in the School are exam-based, the group assessment in this unit presents a distinctive range of skill development opportunities for students. The skills required – which are mostly new to students in an academic/professional context – are: presenting to an audience, developing creative and innovative solutions, and doing all of this in a group. The aim was to highlight these opportunities to students, to help them to reflect on and articulate their skills in readiness for job application scenarios.
Planning discussions touched upon the skills implicit in the unit, considering how to surface them and how to apply these skills. The QAA Benchmark Statements for Accounting and Finance helped to identify the potential long-term benefits of skill development in this unit, and how to articulate these skills. As a further consequence, the unit’s intended learning outcomes were adjusted in advance of the following academic year to put greater emphasis on skills development.
A seminar towards the beginning of the unit encouraged students to discuss the skills they anticipated developing, identify their approach to team working using the Belbin model (in preparation for their group work), and use the Gibbs reflective cycle when reflecting on skills. This was followed by a skills development questionnaire, prompting further consideration by students of skills developed in the unit. A lecture towards the end of the unit encouraged students to articulate how they had used a skill during the unit to answer a competency-based interview question. These sessions were run online.
Specifically, the agreed intended learning outcomes for this section of the unit were:
- Recognise the skill development opportunities within the unit
- Understand the value of enhancing group working skills and how this can benefit career development
- Develop an approach to reflecting on learning to support articulating experience effectively
Students interacted well with polls used during the online seminars, and the Unit Director was happy with how the content sat alongside the subject content and expectations of students during the unit.
In a separate (but related) measure, a new question was included in end-of-unit evaluation forms in the school during TB2 of 2021/22: What are the main employment relevant and transferable skills you have developed during this unit? Compared with other undergraduate units, a greater number of students responded to this question with relevant reflections on skills developed.
The timing of this intervention has been useful to inform students on helpful thought processes that can support them to prepare for upcoming recruitment processes; potentially a key feature early in their third year of study.
The student number for the academic year 2022/23 has risen from 80 to over 220 students.
The Intended Learning Outcomes for the unit have been amended for 2022/23 delivery to better incorporate the associated skill development opportunities for students. The Unit Director and the Employability Adviser have agreed to collaborate further on this during 2022/23: if the option to deliver these sessions in person is available during 2022/23, this will offer more scope for student activities based around the content and position us better to facilitate optimal student engagement and outcomes.
Case study produced in December 2022