Employability - using design activities to enhance student' reflections on value and meaning

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There is a wide consensus that the future labour market will be very different from today and will also increasingly be dominated by free agents (Weforum, 2018, Upwork, 2018).To meet the radical changes in the market, educational institutions are searching for new initiatives. Lately, a novel concept has arrived,also in educational institutions, employability. The term employabilityis subject to a variety ofdefinitions. In this paper,we subscribe to Cole & Tibby ́s (2013) definition of employability that focuseson enablingstudents to be successful, not only in theirworkinglifebut also in their personal lives. In the field of design research and practice, we see new initiatives that aim at helping young people develop new competencies, skills and activities to create quality in life (SIGWELL, Design Research Society)and to design both a meaningfulprivatelife and a fulfilling workinglife (Birsel, 2015, Burnett& Evans, 2016). In this context design is not concerned with the creation of a product,rather, design skills are being used on a personal level.In this paper, which has its foundation in the field of design, we present a brief framework, the 4-Foci Model that is associated with the conceptof ‘a life design attitude’ (Sørensen, 2019). This paper argues that to enhance employability in an educational setting, oneactivitycould be introducedearly in the education, namely training studentsto focus on twoquestions: How can I use my knowledge and practice to create valuefor other people?And how can I use my knowledge and practice to create value and meaning in my life? In a world where human beings are increasingly searching for meaning and purpose (Sinek, 2011, Pink, 2009) we tend to overlook the idea of letting students focus on the value and meaningthey can create in real life.Although these questions appear to be a rather simple activity, they arechallengingandrequirecreative design competencies,such asseeingdifferent perspectives, reframing, imagining, empathizing,etc. The paper presents insights fromaworkshop for 100 journalism students. The paper points to the central role of creativity and design activities in education
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTeaching for Active Learning TAL 2019 : Proceedings fra konferencen TAL2019 på Syddansk Universitet, 2019
EditorsCita Nørgård, Lotte Dyhrberg O'Neill, Vibeke Damlund
Number of pages9
Place of PublicationOdense
PublisherTeaching for Active Learning
Publication date25 Sep 2020
ISBN (Print)9788794006118
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2020
EventTAL 2019 - Teaching for Active Learning - Syddansk Universitet (Odense), Odense, Denmark
Duration: 14 Oct 2019 → …


ConferenceTAL 2019 - Teaching for Active Learning
LocationSyddansk Universitet (Odense)
Period14/10/19 → …
Internet address


  • learning, educational science and teaching

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