Comparing STEM Students’ and Employers’ Emphases on Career Information Literacy- A Study on Undergraduate Capstone Units

Serene Lin-Stephens, Maurizio Manuguerra, John Uesi

Abstract


The mixed graduate employment outcomes of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) have often been discussed in terms of social-economic factors, which are largely beyond educational institutions’ control. This study aims to examine an endogenous factor related to perceptions of career and employability development to inform course designs and facilitation. Building on a previous study, we examine STEM career information literacy learning emphases in generic, discipline-based and transformative learning. Specifically, we identify and describe the variance (a) between STEM student cohorts and (b) between STEM students and employers.

In this nonexperimental, cross-sectional study, we collected responses via a career information literacy learning questionnaire, from final year STEM capstone unit students and their potential employers in an Australian university. The findings indicate that, overall, STEM student cohorts do not differ from each other in their emphases on different attributes of career information literacy, except for the Mathematics, Statistics, Physics and Astronomy cohort. However, when combined and analysed as a group, the STEM students exhibit significantly different career information literacy focuses from STEM employers. The results point to a critical need for STEM students to be educated about employer perceptions. Further implications and limitations of the study are discussed.

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