The Role of ‘Learner Identity’ and Experience-Related Beliefs in Developing Desirable Graduate Attributes


Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Negotiating Higher Education can be a difficult and daunting experience for many students: in addition to helping them gain a qualification, Universities must also ensure that their students develop professional, work-related competencies, skills and attributes during their course of study. Against a backdrop of neoliberalism (where the forces of the market economy have led to much debate around the value, purpose and role of a university education), this chapter explores the expectations upon those working in Higher Education to deliver ‘work-ready’ graduates with skills and attributes beyond those linked immediately to their degree. Based upon findings from research undertaken to explore the formation of learner identity, the chapter begins by discussing the significance that entrenched personal learning histories may play in the construction of an individual’s identity as a learner. Specifically, it asks how an individual’s perceptions of learning are shaped by their previous learning experiences, and how the meanings assigned to those experiences might influence and shape their current and future learning attitudes and approaches to study. In other words, failure to effectively manage one’s own experience-related beliefs may lead some students to impose unintentional barriers upon themselves that may limit their own learning. Emotion and self-efficacy matter: the impact that anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy or vulnerability may have upon a student’s ability to effectively access learning cannot be overlooked.

The chapter discusses issues around student development and introduces the concept of self-sabotage, where the influence of unintentional, closed-learning behaviours impacts adversely upon an individual, restricting their opportunities for learning and personal growth. Potential strategies are suggested: these are aimed at those working in Higher Education to create purposeful learning environments, designed to support students, by helping them develop the skills and competencies needed to cope with setbacks. Via the development of emotional and academic resilience, students should emerge from Higher Education not merely as ‘work-ready’ personnel, but as well-rounded, confident individuals possessing both the agency and the capital to sustain their own self-development as they move from University into the workplace and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmployability via Higher Education: Sustainability as Scholarship
EditorsAlice Diver
PublisherSpringer International
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)ISBN 978-3-030-26342-3
ISBN (Print)ISBN 978-3-030-26341-6
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2019

Publication series

NameEmployability via Higher Education: Sustainability as Scholarship


  • Learner Identity
  • Employability
  • Experience-Related Beliefs
  • Graduate Attributes
  • Higher Education


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