Reference List Entry:

Hill, Jennifer, and Helen Walkington. 2016. "Developing Graduate Attributes through Participation in Undergraduate Research Conferences." Journal of Geography in Higher Education 40 (2): 222-237.

About this Journal Article:

This article examines students’ experiences at a national undergraduate research conference in an effort to understand the development of graduate attributes, which are the framework of skills, attitudes, values and knowledge that graduates ought to have developed by the end of their degrees. The research takes a largely qualitative approach, using semi-structured interviews to collect data. The authors explain that research on graduate attributes is relevant because there is a growing, international conversation about the purpose and characteristics of higher education, and that it is becoming ever more important for institutions to justify their social roles to students. This article focuses on a case study of 22 Geography, Earth and Environmental Science (GEES) graduates, and forms part of a larger study on interdisciplinary graduate attributes. Additionally, the authors split the attributes they analyzed into five categories: communication; research and inquiry skills; personal and intellectual autonomy; ethical, social, and professional understanding; and information literacy. Notably, the authors found that the conference provided a safe and supportive, while also challenging, context for students to develop these skills. This research highlights the importance of opportunities to develop such skills outside of formal disciplinary curricula.