A GRADUATE’S PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
University of Sunderland (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:Research undertaken on students’ transition from Higher Education (HE) to employment (Dawson, 2012) highlights the need for HE staff to step back from day-to-day concerns and rethink their approaches to students’ preparation from undergraduate status to graduate ‘work-ready’. It emphasizes the importance of recognizing that one’s journey from student to graduate standing requires high intensity support from both academic and student-centered staff. It claims that stepping outside of our ‘student-tutor’ stereotype and being perceived as the facilitators, the mentors, who know their field well enough to help students deal with the challenges ahead, assists their development of critical instinct. It also urges members of staff to recognize that we are undoubtedly influential figures on the development of students and that sharing our experiences, whether good or bad, can be invaluable in shaping students own graduate identity.
The findings of this study were validated and evolved (Dawson, 2013 & 2014) into further investigations into students’ development and transformation (in terms of ability and skills) whilst still in HE and in preparation for the ‘world of work’. The study shows that reviewing, re-engineering and re-applying existing literature and approaches to suit the demand of a new generation of students increases their involvement and empowerment. It also evidenced how building on personal experiences reinforces their efficacy beliefs, improves their self-esteem, social skills and resilience and signposts the path for lifelong learning and a sustainable development.
As a result of these, both students and I have evidenced that the principles of sustainable development apply equally to all aspects of life, from personal, social to economic and professional. Thus, we claim that, through participation in challenging academic activities which provide students with the opportunity to design, deliver and assess their own learning, we gain knowledge which we can and will pass on to others, as a student quotes “…I will never lose sight of the importance of adding value and ensuring my actions have a progressive impact on others.”.
In the academic year 2014/15, students embarked a journey on deeper and more critical pathways. They explore personal and social identity, attitude, personality, values and principles which contribute to their transformation from students to graduates and from graduates to employees. Through active and collaborative learning, formative communication with staff and involvement in intellectually stimulating activities, students are seeking answers to questions, such as how to achieve transformation; how to keep a ‘positive’ attitude and generate a sense of belonging; how to pursue and find happiness in HE and beyond. The realities unveiled from such journeys are invaluable to both students and staff as they signposts the paths for an enriched educational experience for all.
Keywords: Employability, Curriculum, Personalized Learning, Transferability of Skills.