Enhancing numerical literacy to promote graduate employability
Louise Taylor, Nottingham Trent University

1. The challeng...
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ALT 2013 - Enhancing Numerical Literacy to Promote Graduate Employability


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Academic poster presented at the ALT annual conference held in 2013.

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ALT 2013 - Enhancing Numerical Literacy to Promote Graduate Employability

  1. 1. Enhancing numerical literacy to promote graduate employability Louise Taylor, Nottingham Trent University 1. The challenging graduate market. As a result of the global economic crisis the legal graduate employment market has been in a state of decline (Law Society, 2003-11). In such a competitive market employers are able to be more discerning than ever in their choice of graduates for the diminishing number of training contracts available. This has placed an increased expectation on the Qualifying Law Degree (QLD) to deliver commercially savvy graduates who possess key transferable and employability skills. In a host of recent surveys conducted with graduate employers numeracy has been highlighted as one such expected skill. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) (QAA, 2007) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) (SRA, 2001, p.1) require that the QLD includes a taught element of numeracy. As law teachers we must ask ourselves whether we meet this minimum requirement, and even if we do, whether we could do more to enhance the numerical literacy of our students in order to promote their employability and future-proof their careers. “Mathematical literacy is an individual’s capacity to identify and understand the role that mathematics plays in the world, to make well-founded judgements and to use and engage with mathematics in ways that meet the needs of that individual’s life as a constructive, concerned and reflective citizen.” The graph on the right demonstrates an overall decline in training contracts registered with the Law Society since the start of the economic crisis in 2008. • • • • • • No. of traineeships by year In such a challenging market it is clear that we must move with the times and deliver modules and extracurricular activities that develop skill-rich graduates who are both employable and well equipped to become the lawyers of tomorrow (Susskind 2012, p.5). Key to this is the recognition that numerical literacy is a core skill which ought to be interwoven throughout the activities offered within our law schools. The findings from a content analysis of module specifications for all modules offered on the full-time year -long QLD at Nottingham Law School (NLS) are displayed in the pie chart below. This shows that one module (Law of Contract and Problem Solving) includes an element of numeracy skills teaching. Assuming that this approach is representative of that adopted in other law schools it can be concluded that the minimum regulatory requirements are being met. That said, there clearly remains scope to further enhance the numerical Modules w/o literacy of our students numeracy by offering additional Modules numeracy skills teaching with and extra-curricular numearcy activities where appropriate. NLS QLD modules 2. Expectations of the QLD. 4. Enhancing numerical literacy. “A student should demonstrate a basic ability where relevant and as the basis for an argument, to use, present and evaluate information provided in numerical or statistical form.” (QAA 2007, p. 4) (National Numeracy 2012) References 7000 6000 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 0 3. Do we meet expectations? Anderson, 2011 Law Society, 2003-11. QAA, 2007. Benchmark Statement for Law. SRA, 2001. Joint Statement on Qualifying Law Degrees. Susskind, R. LETR Briefing Paper 3/2012: Provocations and Perspectives. National Numeracy, 2012. Final year credit bearing optional module Year 1 noncredit bearing mandatory online module Employability (incorporating numeracy skills) summer school Optimum numerical literacy “Employability skills are the most important attributes that businesses look for in new recruits, but graduates are currently falling short of employers’ expectations...” (Anderson 2011) It is contended that the model outlined above would be relatively simple to introduce, would provide an optimum yield of numerically literate graduates, and would cause minimal disruption to the substantive content delivered on the existing NLS QLD curriculum. Acknowledgements Special thanks go to Sinead Moynihan-Case for her technical assistance and to Jenny Holloway, Rebecca Huxley-Binns and Martin Millward for their critical advice. As law teachers it is our job to facilitate our students in gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to secure employment upon leaving university and then to survive the challenges they may face once in that employment. Presently we are providing students with the minimum opportunities to enhance their numerical literacy during their time with us. While this does meet the regulatory requirements for a QLD this may add little in significant value to the numerical literacy of the students that we teach. Worse still, in some cases we may actually be providing students with an educational landscape so largely absent of numbers that they are allowed to forget some of the numerical literacy which they had developed as part of their secondary education. To this extent we are doing our students and their eventual employers a dis-service. If we want to promote graduate employability and future-proof our students’ careers then we should place numerical literacy alongside skills such as language literacy at the core of the QLD. This could be achieved through the implementation of a fairly simple model without detracting from the substantive content of the QLD. All that is needed is the will (and numerical literacy) of the law faculty to facilitate it. For further information Louise Taylor Nottingham Law School Nottingham Trent University Burton Street Nottingham, NG1 4BU. Direct dial: (0115) 848 6054 Email: Louise.Taylor@ntu.ac.uk