Fostering learner, program, university and industry connectedness for graduate employability using a Connectedness Learning Approach

Ruth Bridgstock
Griffith University

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What is the workshop about?
Using the Graduate Employability 2.0 connectedness toolkit resources, you will engage in a reflective self-assessment of your university program or organisational area to identify areas of existing strength and future opportunity for industry connectedness and capability development. This self-assessment forms the basis for a strategic action planning process to foster the connectedness capabilities of your students, enhance pedagogic approaches, and cultivate enabling strategies that will develop and strengthen connections between your institutional area and program and its key partners. Participants will come away with an action plan they can use to get started or take the next steps in strengthening connectedness in their specific contexts. The workshop includes some time for sharing ideas from across different programs and institutions. and finding ways to work together to achieve shared goals.

Who is this workshop for?
This workshop is designed for teachers, and leaders in universities who would like to strengthen their relationships with industry and community for learning and teaching, or to affirm their existing industry-university engagement practice. It may also be useful to industry and community representatives who wish to enhance their relationships with universities. This workshop can accommodate participants who are engaged in advanced industry-university engagement practice, as well as those whose practice is developing.

What are the outcomes of the workshop for participants?
During the workshop, you will:
Use the connectedness learning model and toolkit to analyse your university program, your university area, or your organisation to identify areas of strength and opportunities to strengthen connectedness
• generate strategies to address priorities for connectedness in your program or organisational area
• use a Design Thinking-based collaborative approach to refine the generated strategies
• develop an action plan incorporating elements of the Graduate Employability 2.0 model
• use Design Thinking-based collaborative approaches to refine the action plan

Background to the workshop
This workshop was developing during Professor Ruth Bridgstock’s 2016-2017 Australian National Senior Teaching Fellowship, 'Graduate Employability 2.0'. The fellowship sought to enhance the professional connectedness of both university learners and higher education institutions. The fellowship took as its starting point that professional connections are central to fostering graduate employability, and that universities are increasingly seeking to enrich learning and teaching by collaborating and partnering with stakeholders from industry and community and their own alumni and students. In so doing, they strengthen their programs’ authenticity and relevance (see Bridgstock, 2019; Bridgstock & Tippett, 2019).

During the fellowship, Ruth interviewed hundreds of industry and community partners of university learning and teaching, alumni, and university staff about their engagement practices and experiences. She surveyed several hundred undergraduate students, and worked with more than 30 Australian higher education institutions to develop the Connectedness Learning Model, which describes the capabilities, teaching approaches, and institutional enabling strategies needed for students, programs and universities to be better connected with industry and community. She developed the Connectedness Learning Toolkit, which contains a self-analysis tool and a range of practical resources to help foster connectedness. Ruth has now worked with nearly a thousand educators and industry partners to refine the analysis tool and resources, which are freely available to use at