Teaching Personal Transferable Skills on a BSc Psychology degree

Ross, Anne
Glasgow Caledonian University,

This paper describes the strategy we adopt at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) for teaching our BSc / BSc(Hons) Psychology students Personal Transferable Skills and discusses some of its strengths and weaknesses.

The BSc/BSc (Hons) degree in Psychology at GCU is a three or four year undergraduate degree programme. The honours degree programme has a route recognised by the British Psychological Society for graduate membership and almost all students take the core modules that consititute this route. Since the degree programme began in 1992 we have tried to embed personal transferable skills into it. The following skills were identified as essential:

Information technology: database searching, use of the internet for research, use of email, word processing, use of spread sheets, use of statistical packages for data analysis.

Critical thinking, reading and writing skills: critically evaluating psychological theories and empirical studies, reading and critically appraising journal articles, writing laboratory reports, writing discursive essays.

Communication skills: presentation skills, working effectively in a group

Study skills:

Our strategy since semesterisation and modularisation took place in 1994 is to introduce these skills to students in level 1 through a compulsory module – Introductory Skills for Psychology and to then provide opportunities for students to continue to develop these skills through coursework assignments and seminar activities in later psychology modules. This paper will describe the ISP module in detail and give examples of later skill development opportunities. The following advantages of the strategy will be highlighted:

1. Students are aware of the transferable skills they are developing and are in a better position to market themselves to employers both during the degree and afterwards.

2. Students are become active, deep, independent life-long learners.

The following limitations will be discussed:

1. Personal development planning is only just beginning to be introduced into the degree programme and this is arguably the most important skill as far as developing deep learning is concerned.

2. The skills are assessed in the ISP module but there is no objective assessment of whether or not each individual students skills are developing across the degree.

3. It is up to the student to continue to put the effort in to develop the skills after the first level module.