Research conference prepares UWE Bristol Business students for workplace

Issue date: 28 March 2014

1 April 2014, 16:00-18:00, UWE ECC

Year One Business students from UWE Bristol will showcase their research to the business community at a student conference, as part of a research module dedicated to developing the skills needed by employers.

Engaging in Critical Business Enquiry (EiCBE), is a level one research module taken by over 600 students across the business school on the Business and International Management, Marketing, Events and Tourism and Accounting and Finance programmes.

Launched in 2012, and taught by members of the Centre for Employment Research (CESR) Hilary Drew, Dominic Page and Paul Bennett in recognition of the key role universities play in equipping students with the skills required by future employers.

Module leader Hilary Drew, explains, “With a rising number of university graduates, there is evidence that employers are focusing on skills and experience. This is why it is crucial that universities integrate employability into degree programmes.

“Understanding, critiquing and conducting research are transferable skills that students will be able to use when they enter the workplace; through our module we encourage students to develop these skills early on in their studies.

“The module encourages students to engage with contemporary and thought-provoking work themes, giving them an insight into the business environment.”

The EiCBE module culminates in the student poster conference. Students working in small groups have produced research posters around themes including ethics and corporate social responsibility, equality and diversity at work, knowledge economies and control at work.

The conference is the opportunity for them to showcase their work in front of guests including academic staff and senior management from the University and members of the business community.

Business and Event management students Matthew James, Melissa Barnes, Kelly Walker and Christina Fuehrer have found that good group dynamics and communication skills have been key to producing their research poster. They are using mixed method research to take on the challenge of researching the causes of poverty for 18-25 year olds in the South West.

Matthew James explains, “This is only the second group project we've worked on this year and the first that has been based heavily on our own research. It's been a real advantage that right from the start we have communicated well as a team, we're all committed to the task and have been meeting up for two or three hours several times per week.

“We all agreed on the theme of poverty as it really interested us and it's been thought-provoking researching the causes. Before I did this research, I had some pre-conceived ideas about the causes of poverty, so it's definitely taught me to be more open-minded in my approach to research in the future. We're really proud of what we've achieved and look forward to presenting our findings at the conference.”

Graduate employability is the focus of a research poster by Tourism and Management students Lemlem Yohanes, Aistis Keliauskas, Andrea Aja, Maram Jagne and Kim Hardwell (Business and Event Management). They used quantitative and qualitative research methods to identify the effectiveness of a work placement in finding employment.

The clear allocation of tasks was key in their approach to the research poster. Lemlem Yohanes explains, “We worked well as a group and delegated tasks clearly so we all knew what aspect of the research we were working on and the deadline to complete it by. We've now been working on the poster for two months and it's been a good experience working as a team; we've learnt the value of teamwork and having good organisational skills. They're all good transferable skills that I think will help me in future projects.”

For their research poster, Business Management with Accounting and Finance students Ermira Masha, Kayleigh Leonard, Lucy Allison, Gemma Luck, Katy O'Brien and Jennifer Berwick chose the topical subject of diversity in the banking sector. Their focus was the lack of female representatives in higher management roles.

Jennifer Berwick said, “As an all female group studying business we were really interested in finding out more about this theme, it certainly kept us going during the project and we found that we had lots of information to pull together for the poster. It was also a good opportunity to develop our research skills and to carry out extensive academic research which will also be useful for our next literary review assignment.”

At the conference prizes will be awarded for the best two posters. The first prize winners will also have their work published in CESR, the departmental research magazine.

Paul Bennett, module leader, concludes, “We are really encouraged by the response of the students and how they have engaged with the module, especially the degree conference. The conference shows that if given the opportunity, students are self-motivated, engaged and produce excellent work that UWE Bristol can be proud of.”

Find out more about studying at UWE Bristol: Bristol Business School

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