|International Research Conference, Lancaster UK, 18 - 20 July 2016|
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Developing social capital: a close-up look at pedagogic practices
Deborah Anderson, Barry Avery, Rebecca Lees Kingston Business School, Kingston University, UK.
The widening participation agenda has seen an increase in the number of students entering UK higher education from backgrounds where they are often the first in the family to attend university, come from minority ethnic backgrounds or from less well-off families. As such, these students have little in the way of networks and contacts and few opportunities to develop their social capital. The ability of individuals to secure benefits by being members of social networks or other social structures broadly underpins definitions of social capital, and it has become a popular way to articulate the value that comes from relationships between people or organisations. Three types of social capital have been identified: bonding (between individuals who know each other well), bridging (between individuals who know of each other, not necessarily well, but in the same social or cultural demographic) and linking (vertical connections to 'other' or 'outside' communities).These social networks have been identified as important for career success and with an increasing emphasis on employability in higher education, it makes sense to investigate how pedagogic practice can enhance the development of social capital for students. The study reports on two learning and teaching initiatives developed at a UK Business School, where the proportion of widening participation students is higher than the UK average. ‘Marketing Downloads’, with a focus on student-led participation and ‘Employer Insights’, with links to the workplace, provide an engaging classroom environment in which students have an opportunity to experience a blend of bonding, bridging and linking connectivity. With the teacher providing a facilitation role, the emphasis is on the students taking responsibility for their own learning, potentially increasing their confidence to develop and access their own networks. Qualitative data from focus groups and questionnaires were analysed to identify ways in which students were developing all three types of social capital. Marketing Downloads emphasises bonding and bridging potential, whilst the vertical connections developed through Employer Insights provide the basis for long-term relationships and linking social capital. In summary, we propose that well-designed pedagogic practices can have benefits which go beyond developing discipline knowledge and as a result provide sound preparation for a future after university, through developing the horizontal and vertical ties necessary for the enhancement of social capital.
Social capital; pedagogic practice; learning and teaching; widening participation
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