The importance of belonging - a higher education perspective

Wilson, R 2016, The importance of belonging - a higher education perspective, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Media and Communication, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title The importance of belonging - a higher education perspective
Author(s) Wilson, R
Year 2016
Abstract Universities remain one of the most important cultural sites to teach our citizens how to function within an increasingly complex society. Yet the contemporary university has emerged as a highly contested site with the pressures of economic rationalism, neoliberalism, managerialism and massification often conflicting with traditional ideas of a liberal education. Caught in the centre of these debates is the student experience.

Through this practice-led research project I describe and critically analyse how I came to co-lead a large-scale student engagement project designed specifically to activate the concept of belonging within the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University, via The Belonging Project (2011-2014), and through formative work undertaken on the design of The ASPERA Online Archive.

Utilising practitioner-led action research methodology, this research asks the question: How can the concept of belonging be used to help situate and activate my practice as a tertiary academic within the contemporary university? In answering this question, I explore the ways in which my practice as a tertiary academic has changed through the undertaking of a significant longitudinal research project, The Belonging Project. I outline how notions of belonging are commonly applied within higher education contexts and situate the work of the project within the literature. I also explore how the concept of belonging is embedded within the collaborative practice that is at the centre of both The ASPERA Online Archive and The Belonging Project.

The work on the project has generated a number of scholarly outcomes, situating my work, and that of my collaborators, within a specific set of learning and teaching debates related to student wellbeing and student engagement through to the changing role of higher education more generally.

In conclusion, I outline how this research has changed many aspects of my practice as a media educator and helped focus my commitment to the transformative potential of formal higher education more generally. In undertaking this doctoral project, my conceptualisation of my role within higher education has shifted significantly and I have come to better understand how I can continue to operate authentically and ethically within the academy. This research also offers a path for other academics applying the broad concepts of belonging and inclusivity to various aspects of their academic career and the higher education environment more generally.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Media and Communication
Subjects Higher Education
Keyword(s) Belonging
Higher Education
Student Engagement
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Created: Fri, 10 Mar 2017, 09:17:27 EST by Adam Rivett
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