Career Development Association of New Zealand


Te Mōhiotanga

Collaboration for Improving Students’ Understanding of Careers: Successfully Bridging the Academic/Practice Divide

By: Fiona Hurd, Heather Lowery-Kappes and Dr Suzette Dyer

Date: 24 Nov 2019

Category: Article reviews

Tags: hr, human resources, training, qualification

Collaboration for Improving Students’ Understanding of Careers: Successfully Bridging the Academic/Practice Divide

In the career classroom we are always looking for new ways to bring the theory and practice of career management and development to life for our students. Indeed, we base our work on the assumption that career planning, managing and developing is an interactive, continuous process. Many of our students intend to enter the Human Resource Management (HRM) field, and for many, HRM Practitioners are responsible for career management within their wider role. Within the context of the HRM Major, our fourth year Career Management and Development course initially focused on analysing career theories within the wider political economy. Amidst changing labour market conditions we increasingly observed that the course left a gap in our HRM students’ learning, in terms of what it means to manage career today and tomorrow. Upon reflection we realised that many did not fully understand the nature or importance of career practice. To fill this gap we looked beyond our traditional academic sources of expertise and found that our own campus career services had much to offer to the student learning experience.

In 2015 we collaboratively redesigned the course alongside our campus career services, with the aim of strengthening student understanding of career theory in practice utilising experiential learning exercises. We have collected 4 years’ worth of data in the form of student assignments and reflections, for a total of 106 participants, each with three pieces of work. We are currently undertaking analysis of the data to explore how the engagement with career practice has improved our students’ learning outcomes and understanding of career theory. Initial reflections suggest that students have engaged with the theory at a deeper level, gaining an understanding of how these theories might relate to their own careers. The students also seem to have begun to form a more holistic view of a career, understanding that a career spans work and non-work spheres, and may encompass a number of moments of change and pivot. Interestingly, the students also seem to have gained a much stronger understanding for career practice, and for some of them, this has resulted in an expressed desire to pursue a career practitioner trajectory. 

Our research is currently very much ‘work in progress’, and we look forward to updating CDANZ members on our results, however, at this stage, we are heartened by what appears to be enhanced student outcomes through the engagement with career practice within the context of the classroom. We feel this research (and course design) has much wider implications for the way in which education and career practice spheres might collaborate.



Fiona Hurd, Heather Lowery-Kappes and Dr Suzette Dyer

Fiona Hurd is a Senior Lecturer at Auckland University of Technology. Her teaching and research focuses on the impact of changes in work and organisation on business, workers, communities and individuals. She also has a strong research background in teaching and learning research, being involved in research in this area for 10 years. Fiona is currently researching techniques for engaging students in developing the skills needed in an increasing changing work and societal context.

Heather Lowery-Kappes has a Master of Counselling, Graduate Diploma in Career Development and a Graduate Diploma in Human Resources Management. She is Vice President of the Career Development Association of New Zealand (CDANZ). Heather is currently a Career Development Advisor at the University of Waikato and also works in private practice. Her educational and vocational background is in human resources, training for employment, development, and supported employment. Heather is particularly interested in working with people helping them make successful career transitions/pivots.

Dr Suzette Dyer is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Waikato, within the Waikato Management School. Her PhD examined career management and development within the political-economy of New Zealand during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Suzette has a keen interest in career and management, women’s organisational experiences, and management pedagogy and has been teaching, researching and publishing in these areas for nearly two decades. Suzette is currently researching the effectiveness of education on enhancing HRM students understanding of career.