Embedding professional requirements within the Bachelor of Nutrition & Dietetics to enhance employability Faculty Spark - View, reflect and apply
Last updated on 30/10/2019
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Professional identity is a key success factor for all undergraduate students when transitioning to the workforce. To enable students to develop a clear sense of professional identity, the team embedded professional requirements into the program.
The Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) Program is used to accredit dietetic graduates. To gain this title, newly graduated dietitians must become members of DAA and register as a provisional APD. This involves:
- participating in 12 months of mentoring with an APD;
- setting learning goals; and
- completing a minimum of 30 hours of professional development per year (DAA, 2016).
In previous years, BND students were only informed of the DAA requirements immediately prior to graduation, during their Post-Placement Week (a week of campus-based teaching in Year 4 at the completion of their 20 weeks placement). It was felt that more could be done to enhance the student experience and the competitive employability advantage for Bachelor of Nutrition & Dietetics (BND) students.
Consequently, the Griffith BND team embedded these professional requirements throughout the program from first year. This ensured that students were developing a thorough understanding of the discipline’s requirements early into their degree.
An illustrative example includes the introduction of the 1to3 Peer Mentoring Program. In this program, third year BND students mentor first year BND students. Through participating in this program, students are able to gain a greater understanding of the discipline earlier on, as well as provide evidence of leadership and verbal communication skills.
To ensure that BND students were meeting professional requirements, the Griffith BND team embedded a 10 per cent assessable item within three courses (1206AHS; 3104AHS; 3100AHS). As part of this assessment item, students are required to complete Continuous Professional Development (CPD) goals and an activity log, of which is based within PebblePad. Students set their own learning goals early on into the semester, thus evidencing self-regulation skills, and devise a plan of CPD opportunities to work towards throughout the semester. Within these CPD activity logs, students must demonstrate the CPD opportunities that they participated in and reflect upon their learning experiences.
To prepare students to complete this assessment, content is provided within the lectures early into the trimester including: DAA APD requirements relating to CPD and mentoring; assessment requirements; and potential CPD opportunities. This assessment item effectively enhances the reflective capacity of students, along with their self-regulated ability to learn and professionally develop.
A key requirement of the CPD activity is to participate in mentoring. The 1to3 Peer Mentoring Program was introduced to the BND program at Griffith University in Semester 1, 2016 and was adapted in 2017. The purpose of this mentoring program was to enhance the student experience and graduate employability outcomes of BND students. The program was based on an adapted version of the professional mentoring program of the APD program of the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA, 2016). The 1to3 program consists of Year 3 BND students providing 3 to 6 hours of mentoring to a Year 1 BND students throughout the semester. Mentor training was provided to Year 3 students to develop the skills required to mentor their peers. First year students also received a brief training session which introduced them to the process and outlined the mentoring requirements. The BND team facilitated a 'speed matching for mentoring' session, in which First Year students could indicate their mentor allocation preferences. First and Third Year students were then required to log their time spent for each of their mentoring sessions, along with their personal reflections, into their PebblePad CPD log. These reflections then contribute to 10 per cent of their course assessment.
The incorporation of professional requirements, via the CPD log and accompanying reflections, has led to a number of benefits for BND students. These benefits include:
- allowing students to take greater control of their learning experience;
- providing students with the opportunity to reflect upon how they can further enhance their employability through volunteering and other extra-curricular activities; and
- developing the professional identity of students through encouraging students to understand and reflect upon their future career pathways.
The use of PebblePad within the Program has been evaluated via online surveys with additional comments available from the Griffith University Student Evaluation of Courses data. Feedback received to date has indicated that students have found this to be a positive process.
PebblePad was utilised for the CPD activity logs and reflections due to the platform's functionality. The activity log function has been embedded within their related course PebblePad workbooks, allowing easy access to log their activities and a space for them to reflect on these. Students set up their CPD activity log with a target aim of 15 hours per semester (30 hours per year) in line with APD requirements.
If you are thinking about trying this approach, consider the following:
- embed this in course assessment to gain student buy-in;
- explain to students the purpose of implementing this approach, including highlighting the short and long term benefits of completing these learning goals. The acceptance is greater if they know what they can potentially get out of this with respect to their employability outcomes;
- advertise to students the potential CPD opportunities that are available to them after completion of the course;
- invite a guest lecture from the Careers and Employability Service with the topic areas of resume development and seeking out high impact CPD opportunities; and
- ensure there is time allocated in the course to train students in serving as mentors and outline clear expectations for mentors and mentees.
The team has continued to refine this program since its implementation. Refinements have included:
- allowing students in the second iteration to allocate preferences for mentors;
- and allocating time for the cohorts to meet.
Griffith Graduate Attributes
This assessment item directly aligns with the following Griffith Graduate Attributes: 1. Knowledgeable and skilled with critical judgement 2. Effective communicators and collaborators This assessment item requires students to reflect upon and articulate the methods that they have undertaken to professionally develop throughout the program.
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Embedding professional requirements within the Bachelor of Nutrition & Dietetics to enhance employability. Retrieved from https://app.secure.griffith.edu.au/exlnt/entry/4526/view(2019).