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    Pedagogical interventions to support student belonging and employability: four case studies

    Cooke, Belinda, Kaiseler, Mariana ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7931-4584, Robertson, Ben, Smith, Hugo, Swann, Sarah, Vergilio, Thalita and Smith, Susan (2024) Pedagogical interventions to support student belonging and employability: four case studies. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education (30). ISSN 1759-667X

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    Employability is not just about focusing on building the students’ workplace experience but about developing their social and cultural capital through learning. In higher education, the selected pedagogies are central to that development (Pegg, 2012). Thoughtful curricular design which maximises student engagement and adopts pedagogies for career and employability learning can help to prepare students for the reality of the workplace. These pedagogies with social connection at their heart can enhance student wellbeing and their perceived sense of belonging to their course and wider world. This can thus build more confident, reflective and collaborative graduates who should ultimately be more employable (Rowe et al, 2023). This paper uses a qualitative approach to outline four course-based case study examples of pedagogies that strengthen the behaviours and skills that enhance students’ employability. The curricular and pedagogic practices of each are examined, and significant themes from each are then synthesised. Together they demonstrate how thoughtful course design and inclusive, integrated, contextualised pedagogic approaches support the development of students’ employability learning and graduate skills (Healy, 2023). The common themes from the case studies focused on self-directed, student-centred, authentic learning which encouraged students to i) work with industry and communities to build early professional networks, ii) engage in connected learning where the curriculum and its supporting activities and pedagogy facilitate collaborative learning, iii) develop confidence, a sense of belonging and professional identities through using these inclusive, collaborative learning approaches. In addition, six practical pedagogic principles are identified for course teams to utilise. These include i) focus on inclusive practice, ii) building students’ professional identity, iii) developing students’ belonging, iv) deep critical thinking v) the demystification of the workplace through the activities selected vi) students leading their own learning. This paper integrates a series of reflective questions (mapped to each principle) for educational developers to consider as they design future learning activities which foster graduate skills during career and employability learning.

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