Using Case Studies to Surface Working Approaches:
Engaging Educators in Inclusive Practice Louise Jones is a Careers Consultant at City, University of London.
City, University of London are partnering with The Careers Group and the University of London for one of QAA's Collaborative Enhancement Projects, building on ongoing inclusive practice work to integrate employability development into good-quality teaching and learning, enabling higher education providers to support diverse student populations effectively. The project will produce an educator toolkit, which will focus on pedagogy, assessments, and content for employability.
As part of this project, Careers Consultants here at City met other project partners for a half-day workshop earlier this year. We deliver a variety of employability modules via our institution-wide Career Activation Programme, and are therefore well-placed to consider the toolkit proposition through a delivery lens.
We used an introductory exercise to open the workshop and spark our thinking. The activity was designed to explore inequitable scenarios our students and graduates could be faced with in the professional labour market; and to prompt us to consider steps we can take to raise awareness and prepare them accordingly.
To address this, we used (with client consent) an anonymised, lived experience case study from a scenario encountered in 1-1 guidance, which raised a range of workplace DE&I issues. The scenario was shared beforehand as pre-reading. In-session, we introduced the exercise using Hooley, Sultana and Thomsen’s 5 Signposts Towards Socially Just Careers Guidance as a framework to support reflection. We posed three questions for discussion groups to consider. The first asked participants to review the case as guidance practitioners, considering the 5 signposts, and approaches to stepping into the allyship space to support the client.
The two follow-up questions considered our position as careers educators:
- What steps can we take in-curriculum to carefully raise awareness amongst students and prepare them for inequitable situations (such as this) that they may face in the workplace and in recruitment processes?
- How can we create a safe space in the curriculum which enables students to feel they can bring these concerns to us?
In facilitating this discussion, it was important to openly acknowledge the upsetting experiences outlined in the scenario and the range of responses this could trigger. We wanted participants to feel safe and have space to share their views.
The case study provided an opportunity to gain deeper appreciation of the challenges our students and graduates may face; and created space for rich and thought-provoking reflections. Working with the 5 signposts in mind enabled us to begin to review and assess our approaches to inclusive curriculum design. This is a process we can take forward as we work to develop and test the educator toolkit resources. We are excited about the inclusive practice journey this project opens up for us, and equally mindful that inclusive practice is exactly that: an ongoing journey of continuous improvement, not a final destination.
A participant perspective on the case study exercise:
The exercise gave me time to revisit the ‘five signposts’ and consider how to use them in practice. It was valuable to hear from colleagues and discuss our thoughts in a safe environment. I felt able to reflect and examine my prejudices and misconceptions and found hearing other perspectives and approaches very useful. I learnt from my peers and gained some tools that I can use in future guidance appointments. I now have the confidence to support clients to name the oppression that they are facing. I found the session empowering and energising. The way we handle challenging client work can make a positive difference to people's lives and we can in turn learn from our clients' lived experiences.
Lucy Ayliffe, Careers Consultant, City University of London