Project 1

Graduate Experiences of Employability and Knowledge (GEEK) Project

This project was a continuation of CGHE Project 3.3, ‘Understanding Knowledge, Curriculum and Student Agency.’ It examined how the students from the UK-SA project experience the first three years after their expected graduation from their degree courses.

About this project

The UK-SA project was a longitudinal project that is following undergraduate students of Chemistry and undergraduate students of Chemical Engineering at six universities (two in South Africa, two in the UK and two in the USA). It focused on examining how STEM disciplines transform students’ sense of agency by engaging them with disciplinary knowledge. This went beyond examining the potential of STEM disciplines to benefit individuals and economic development, to consider how ‘graduateness’ is produced through students’ transformational relationships with knowledge.

The GEEK project investigated the notion of graduatedness and the transformational potential of studying Science and Engineering by following the same students involved in UKSA after they graduate. It examined how students’ engagement with their discipline affects their lives in terms of worldviews and agency, employability and career, and wider social and cultural embeddedness in society.


Paul Ashwin
Lancaster University
Paul Ashwin is Professor of Higher Education, Lancaster University. He played a key role in creating CGHE, was a CGHE Deputy Director and led the Centre’s Graduate Experiences of Employability and Knowledge project.
Professor Jenni Case
Virginia Tech (US)
Jennifer Case is Professor and Head of the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech in the USA. Prior to her appointment in this post she was a Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Cape Town, where she retains an honorary appointment.
Lancaster University
Jan McArthur is a CGHE Deputy Director, and was a Co-Investigator on CGHE Project 1, ‘Graduate Experiences of Employability and Knowledge (GEEK) Project’.
Kayleigh Rosewell
Lancaster University
Kayleigh Rosewell is a Senior Research Associate on CGHE Project 1, ‘Graduate Experiences of Employability and Knowledge (GEEK) Project’.
Dr Margaret Blackie
University of Stellenbosch

Dr Margaret Blackie is a senior lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. She also teaches theology at the same institution. She has research interests in medicinal chemistry and tertiary STEM education.

Professor Nicole Pitterson
Virginia Tech

Nicole Pitterson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She holds a B.Sc in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Technology, Jamaica, a M.Sc. in Manufacturing Engineering from Western Illinois University, and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University. Upon completion of her doctoral degree, Dr. Pitterson worked as a postdoctoral research scholar at Oregon State University.

Reneé Smit
University of Cape Town

Reneé Smit is the Academic Development Lecturer, Electrical Engineering at University of Cape Town based in South Africa.


CGHE working papers

Additional publications

  • Ashwin, P., Blackie, M., Pitterson, N., Smit, R. (2022) Undergraduate students’ knowledge outcomes and how these relate to their educational experiences: a longitudinal study of chemistry in two countries. Higher Education, p.1-16.
  • Case, J. M., Agrawal, A., Abdalla, A., Pitterson, N., & McArthur, J. (2022). Students’ experiences of the value of lectures for their learning: a close-up comparative study across four institutions. Teaching in Higher Education, 1-19.
  • McArthur, J., Blackie, M., Pitterson, N., & Rosewell, K. (2021). Student perspectives on assessment: connections between self and society. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 1-14.
  • McArthur, J (2020) Assessment for social justice: Achievement, uncertainty and recognition. In C. Callender, W. Locke and S. Marginson, Changing Higher Education for a Changing World. London: Bloomsbury.