TLU Physics Joins Pilot Program to Validate Graduates’ Employability

November 17, 2017

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Research tells us that graduates who are most employable—that is, ready to succeed after graduation and over a lifetime—possess a set of essential qualities that transcend discipline or field and withstand the test of time. The big questions is how do we know whether a higher education program prepares students well for the changing world of work? TLU's Physics Department Texas Lutheran University is one of 27 higher education programs across North America—and the only one in Texas—working to find out.

 As participants in the Essential Employability Qualities (EEQ) Pilot led by The Quality Assurance Commons (The QA Commons), these innovators are co-designing ways to assess and affirm higher education programs that intentionally:

  • Develop essential employability qualities within students 
  • Engage students and employers in quality assurance 
  • Assure that graduates are prepared for the world of work after program completion 
  • Communicate openly and accurately with the public

The EEQ are the people skills, problem-solving abilities, and professional strengths that graduates need to thrive in the changing world of work. Participants are diverse in the discipline, learning format and degree levels they offer; the types of institutions they belong to, whether public, private, for-profit or faith-based; as well as in the student bodies they serve, such as first-generation students, traditional age or continuing education students, commuters or residential students.

“We are grateful for the partnership of so many different kinds of programs participating in the EEQ Pilot,” said Melanie Booth, executive director of The QA Commons. “This diversity is very intentional and allows us to test the model in a variety of contexts to ensure that the ultimate process and certification we develop together will be appropriately flexible to address these distinctions—yet meaningful to everyone involved.”

TLU Physics Department Chair Dr. Toni Sauncy said one of the reasons TLU was selected is her involvement in professional development and career initiatives for undergraduate physics students throughout the past six years while also leading a National Science Foundation grant (now compete) with the American Institute of Physics.

"That work led to a number of resources for faculty and students and spurred follow-up studies aimed at making sure students are prepared for careers when they graduate," Sauncy said. "This potential for having an external verification that we are doing a good job of preparing students with the kinds of knowledge and skills that are expected by employers is important since it would be another sign of the quality program we offer at TLU. As part of the pilot project, we are developing not only the list of 'essential qualities' for our graduates, but also the process by which programs would be certified and maintain certification," Sauncy said. "Our selection into the pilot is a signal from those who are driving this effort that TLU Applied Physics is ahead of the game in terms of paying attention to the kinds of 'beyond the curriculum' experiences that are essential for our students to be successful once they graduate."

More About The EEQ Pilot

The EEQ Pilot is a project of The Quality Assurance Commons for Higher & Postsecondary Education (The QA Commons), an independent, nonprofit organization devoted to exploring, developing and leading approaches to quality assurance that serve the needs of learners, employers and society. The QA Commons and the EEQ Pilot are initially funded through National Center for Higher Education Management Systems under a grant from Lumina Foundation. Learn more and follow this work at TheQACommons.org.


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