CGHE webinar series | Webinar 2 - Shaped by knowledge: Science and engineering graduates’ reflections of what they gained from their university degrees

In this webinar we will explore the ways in which the participants reflected on the knowledge gained in their undergraduate chemistry and chemical engineering degrees after they had graduated. We will begin with a brief overview of where the participants have ended up following their graduation. Some have continued on to further study in the field, some remain working in the field and some are now on a trajectory unrelated to their undergraduate degree. We will then explore the ways in which they talk about the subject (chemistry or chemical engineering) and the ways in which they reflect on what they have gained through their undergraduate studies.

The chemists tend to emphasize the skills of problem solving, critical thinking and methodical approaches. One participant says explicitly, ‘in terms of actual raw chemistry knowledge… the specifics have gone’. With the chemical engineers there is an additional emphasis on the professional development aspects which are embedded in the degree such as teamwork and project management. Again, one participant notes ‘I don’t necessarily have to make every day use of my degree’.

Nonetheless, it is clear in the data that all participants recognize that the way they interact with the world has been influenced by their engagement with the discipline. Whilst the skills they name appear to be generic, the illustrations show that these are not generic, but very specific and make visible the ways in which the disciplinary knowledge continues to shape their worldview. The detail of the information may be lost, but the way of thinking remains as they head out into their careers.