9th Experimental Archaeology Conference poster – Wood

Designing a Problem Based Learning Module to Enhance Employability Skills for Undergraduate Students at UCLAN 

Gaynor Wood

There is little published on either the teaching of experimental archaeology or its potential link to developing employability skills in students. However, there is considerable literature on employability generally. Employability is has become important issue within Higher Education sector. For students now entering into Higher Education a degree is certainly not enough to ensure a job or occupation at the end of the course. In the highly competitive world of employment effective graduates are able to demonstrate to potential employer a wide range of skills, e.g. communication, problem solving, team working and behaviours such as “a can do attitude”, confidence, and resourcefulness. The new “oven ready” graduate is able to slot into a company or organisation from day one, immediately able to contribute to its aims and objectives, and to those of the economy in general, because they are commercially aware and trained to meet the requirements of the employer (Atkins, 1999) Most Higher Education Institutions are now focussing on this agenda; preparing graduates who can swiftly contribute to general society
(citizenship) and to the UK economy (employable).

Opportunities for an archaeology department to embed employability within and outside the taught curriculum are varied. For example, this can be through: excavation and field experience, Personal and Professional Development modules which discuss professional standards and requirements, and encourage personal reflection and career development learning, employment or placement opportunities within the archaeological and heritage sectors, community development projects and work placement or realistic work environment modules. However, it is also the use of creative and challenging teaching methods which develop a variety of skills and behaviours.

One of these is the Problem Based Learning (PBL) technique (Barrett and Cashman, 2010) which has been used in several UK universities to teach archaeology and its sister discipline, experimental archaeology. In this paper PBL will be explored using case studies from within the context of archaeology teaching, and a proposed module to be taught at the University of Central Lancashire. It is argued that using an experimental archaeology problem and teaching
through PBL is an innovative and effective way to develop students’ employability skills

ATKINS, M.J. 1999. Oven-­‐ready and Self-­‐basting: Taking Stock of Employability Skills. Teaching in Higher Education. Vol 4, Issue 2 p267 – 280

BARRETT, T., & CASHMAN, D. (eds) 2010. A Practitioners’ Guide to Enquiry and Problembased
Learning. Dublin: UCD Teaching and Learning



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