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Increasing the engagement of researchers with skills training through the use of grand societal challenges; a case study on engagement with, and impact of, enterprise skills training at Newcastle University

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Bryn Jones, Katie Wray, Dr Gail de Blaquiere


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In 2011, Newcastle University ran ACTION: 2011 Sustainability, a 9 month long competition in which multi-disciplinary teams of researchers each created and developed a new product or service which addressed a perceived problem within the broad societal challenge theme of sustainability. This was followed in 2012, with ACTION 2012: Social Renewal in which teams of researchers were challenged with the question: how can societies and communities thrive when faced with rapid, transformational change? The aim of each ACTION competition was to draw in researchers from across the university and, over the lifetime of the competition, have them engage in 5-6 days of skill development covering creativity, enterprise and entrepreneurship. The uptake skills development in this area is generally lower than in some other skills domains and it was anticipated that the ACTION approach, with its focus on the grand challenges faced by society would draw in participants who would otherwise be hard for such training to reach. This paper presents data on participant attitudes and perceptions collected on commencement of each competition, and on completion, for both the 2011 and 2012 cohorts. The SKIPI methodology (Alpay and Walsh, 2008) was used to collect these data. Control groups were also surveyed. Data analysis suggests that the societal challenges are effective in engaging hard-to-reach researchers, and that the ACTION programme improves skills and attitudes towards entrepreneurial training. Alpay E, Walsh E, A skills perception inventory for evaluating postgraduate transferable skills development, ASSESSMENT & EVALUATION IN HIGHER EDUCATION, 2008, Vol:33, Pages:581-598

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jones B, Wray K, Scanlon E, de Blaquière GE

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: International Conference on Developments in Doctoral Education

Year of Conference: 2013

Pages: 24-24

Publisher: UK Council for Graduate Education


Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

Sponsor(s): Epigeum

ISBN: 9780956381255