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Articulating learning and supporting student employability: using the concept of ‘illusio’ to make sense of the issues raised by distance learners

Pegg, Ann and Carr, Jenni (2010). Articulating learning and supporting student employability: using the concept of ‘illusio’ to make sense of the issues raised by distance learners. Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 12 pp. 78–90.

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Universities in the UK and elsewhere are expected to demonstrate how they prepare their graduates for employment. At the same time the Widening Participation (WP) agenda for universities means that the student population is increasingly diverse and may have a pre-existing relationship with, and experience of, the world of work. Distance learners at the Open University (OU) are at the confluence of these two agendas, seeking to become graduates but with various experiences of both ‘graduate level’ and non-graduate level work. Drawing from verbal and textual data from focus groups and interviews conducted in OU regional/national centres in London and Ireland, we use Bourdieu and the concept of 'illusio', together with social and cultural capital to illustrate how these distance learners articulated their notions of employability and graduateness. We found learners developed a nuanced approach to employability as they worked to integrate their understandings of life experience and notions of ‘graduateness’. We suggest that if our aim is to both deliver learning ‘for its own sake’ and still meet the government’s employability agenda, it would be helpful for practitioners to engage in early critical conversations with learners to provide the scaffolding necessary to enable students to translate their ‘real life’ experiences into language that employers both understand and value.

Item Type: Journal Article
Copyright Holders: 2010 The Authors
ISSN: 2045-2713
Extra Information: Special issue
Keywords: employability; employment; Bourdieu; illusio; social capital; cultural capital; distance learning
Academic Unit/Department: Other Departments > Office of PVC Academic
Other Departments
Science > Environment, Earth and Ecosystems
Item ID: 24491
Depositing User: Ann Pegg
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2010 20:04
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2016 14:03
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