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Criminology in the Professions

Sue Bond-Taylor,  Jill Jameson and Katie Strudwick, Senior Lecturers in Criminology, School of Social Sciences.

61-90 students      2009/10 Semester B

A module in BA (hons) Criminology and BSc (hons) Criminology & Forensic Investigation

According to Tomlinson (2008) students can no longer rely on a higher education degree to ensure future employability, and need to add value to ensure successful employment. Yet employability is of increasing political importance, marking ‘quality’ in HE, a measurable output by which a programme’s success can be evaluated, and accordingly funded.

The School of Social Sciences has developed a new module at level 2 which responds to a number of subject benchmarks in explicitly putting employability into the Criminology curriculum. Given that students have been reluctant to engage in opportunities provided external to the curriculum, this new module, Criminology in the Professions (CiP) aims to enmesh practical careers and employability education with academic knowledge and understanding of relevant criminal justice institutions.

The module has been developed in partnership with Opportunities@Lincoln and the Faculty Employer Engagement Manager. Contributions to teaching and learning have been made by a wider community of individuals with particular relevant experiences . These include:

 Opportunities staff – providing CV building workshops and Job Application seminars with advice on personal statements.

 Criminology Alumni – forming a panel for a ‘Question Time’ style Alumni Evening to advise on their career path and experiences.

 Local Practitioners – providing a number of guest lectures on their work, the organisation they work within and employment opportunities.

 Level 3 Students – those who had undertaken summer placements provided seminars to discuss their experiences and the benefits of work placements.

Students are further directed to and encouraged to take up opportunities external to the module, eg practice interviews, work placements, volunteering and mentoring by employers. The module’s Blackboard site thus becomes a central resource for students to find and to be contacted about subject relevant opportunities and new vacancies.

Assessment on the module involves the production of a Professional Development File which is compiled throughout the semester and comprises:

 Practical career planning information eg CV, personal statement and individual careers research.

 Reflective pieces, eg responding to the alumni and placement students’ advice on career planning, and considering gaps in current skills base.

 An academic and theoretically informed discourse analysis of the 5 guest practitioner lectures, considering issues of organisational culture and management.

Alongside this File, students have weekly practical tasks, such as giving a presentation on careers for criminology graduates and leading seminar activities. Details of these additional tasks are to be included in their file.

This module reflects a number of criteria for Research Engaged Teaching. Through its very hands on, research focused teaching and assessment methods, it clearly sets up the student as producer, independently researching their individual career goals. Students actively contribute to the teaching and learning process throughout the module, e.g. by leading seminars and questioning visiting speakers. Their interaction with local practitioners and our own alumni constructs the student within communities of learning and practice.

In addition, this module is a prime example of pedagogic research informing the development of teaching, learning and assessment, as the module is subject to C-SAP funded research to evaluate its success and potential for further development in future. This research entails:

 Student evaluation survey at both the beginning and end of the module.

 A focus group with students who had undertaken work placements.

 Postal survey of Criminology alumni.

 Postal survey of local employers relevant to Criminology to assess their attitudes to criminology graduates, and the skills they possess.

 – ‘World Cafe’ focus group of academic staff to look at their attitudes to teaching employability skills within the curriculum.

Preliminary findings indicate some of the benefits for students taking the module. Whilst ultimately the success of the module can only be measured by future employment success, there is clear evidence of an increase in student consideration of career planning at level 2, and increased engagement with wider University opportunities provision.

Before taking the module, only 26% had visited opportunities@lincoln, (although only 15% could identify location, so some of those may have been to the job shop?), compared to 50% in week 10 (this should continue to increase as students complete their assessment).

Before taking the module, only 19% knew where Community Volunteers were located. By week 10 40% had visited Community Volunteers and 45% had applied for voluntary work.

Tomlinson, M. (2008) ‘The degree is not enough’: students’ perceptions of the role of higher education credentials for graduate work and employability. In British Journal of Sociology of Education, Vol.29, No.1 pp.49-61.

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