Where is the university?: student belonging in digital higher education
From Claire Sowton
Dr Karen Gravett, University of Surrey
This event took place on 29th November 2022.
In this presentation, I will share some of my current research and practice examining student belonging and the broader question of ‘where is the university?’. Our recent times have upended the way we think about student learning. Drawing upon SRHE funded empirical work, my argument is that the Covid-19 pandemic and associated move to remote and hybrid learning has accelerated the tendency to resort to unrealistic narratives surrounding the revolutionary potential of the digital, where the affordances of remote learning are being espoused uncritically. I suggest that there is a need to look more closely at the impacts of this disruption of spatial orientations upon students’ experiences, particularly those from equity groups, where the disruption to the spatial securities of learning offline expose the limits to the myth of the digital utopia. Through charting responses to this larger question, we can then look closely at the impact of evolving spaces upon individuals’ experiences of university. Specifically, I examine how students’ situated experiences of belonging and participation speak back to simplistic conceptions of equality, diversity and inclusion within higher education and sketch a more nuanced depiction of what it is to be a contemporary student. I will explore how we can draw upon evidence-based research to assist our work in maximising students’ potential and fostering belonging for a diversity of students in contemporary higher education.
Dr Karen Gravett is Senior Lecturer at the Surrey Institute of Education at the University of Surrey, UK, where her research focuses on understanding learning and teaching in higher education, and explores the areas of student engagement, belonging, transition, and relational pedagogies. She is Director of the Language, Literacies and Learning research group, Co-convenor of the SRHE Learning, Teaching and Assessment network, and a member of the editorial board for Teaching in Higher Education. Her work has been funded by the Society for Research in Higher Education, the Association for Learning Development in Higher Education, the British Association for Applied Linguistics, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
Karen’s work is published in leading journals including Studies in Higher Education, Teaching in Higher Education, Higher Education, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, and the International Journal of Qualitative Methods. Her latest books are: Gravett, K. (due 2023) Relational Pedagogies: Connections and Mattering in Higher Education. London: Bloomsbury. Kinchin, I. M. and Gravett, K. (2022) Dominant discourses in higher education: Critical perspectives, cartographies and practice. London: Bloomsbury, and Gravett, K., Yakovchuk, N. and Kinchin, I.M. (Eds.) (2020) Enhancing student-centred teaching in higher education: The landscape of student-staff partnerships. Cham, Switzerland, Palgrave Macmillan.