Arti Kumar MBE; National Teaching Fellow; Emerita University of Bedfordshire; AGCAS Lifetime Achievement Award winner
I attended the ANTF Symposium in April and presented on the key enablers that hold powerful potential for SOAR to ‘Soar to success’. Over the years I have become associated with my publications and expertise in the design and delivery of pedagogy for Career Development Learning, Personal Development Planning, Employability, and Sustainability – all integrated and encapsulated in ‘the SOAR framework or model’ (as it has come to be known, used and evaluated in the UK and abroad). SOAR is a simple, positive, memorable acronym and its associated tools enable all individuals to make personally meaningful, recursive interconnections within and between the dimensions of Self, Opportunity, Aspirations and Results.
Key enablers and practical activities in SOAR
‘Appreciative Inquiry’ enhances self-efficacy for staff and students (preferably in partnership) to:
• build positive, authentic Self-MAPs for the journey through life-careers, based on strengths arising from Motivation, Ability and Personality (see illustration below)
• identify, critically appreciate, articulate and promote personal, social, academic and professional strengths in relation to the results they want and need
• address development needs with more motivation, sense of direction and destination
• find or create meaningful developmental opportunities in study, work and personal life
• generate, clarify, test and implement realistic aspirations aligned with sustainable development goals (ref. The UN’s SDGs)
• achieve results as interconnected end-goals in terms of the ‘behavioural competencies’ and attributes typically required and recruited by employers
• enhance effective functioning in the diverse contexts of lifelong / life wide learning and work in our changing, challenging times
• record achievements, evaluate and continually develop through transitions beyond graduation.
Personalisation: an inclusive learning and development process that also values diversity
This is a regenerative, interconnected process that creates synergy by integrating holistic learning and key development goals as the unique, authentic possession of each individual. It is therefore inclusive while also validating and valuing diversity. It offers powerful potential to strengthen resilience, health and wellbeing, emotional and social competencies. It can transfer into future sustainable careers of lifelong learning and continuous professional development.
SOAR is in practice a metamodel that allows and enables educators to include other models and approaches under its overarching umbrella – to flexibly contextualise its positive principled tools and techniques to suit their subject fields and students. The methods have inbuilt requirements for self-reflection, action, interaction and collaboration, research, analysis and synthesis. In this process of development, educators use constructive alignment of learning outcomes, methods and objectives (pedagogy).
Students simultaneously align and generate their aspirations, personal goals and visions of success, using personal and social constructivism (scaffolded andragogy and heutagogy) in moving towards employability, sustainability and (metamorphic) identity. They generate synergy, personal relevance and agency in the process of self-actualisation interlinked with essential socio-economic requirements and sustainable development goals, thus ‘orienting the world of work to the work of the world’ (Porritt, 2012).
Kumar, A. (2022) Personal, Social, Academic and Career Development in Higher Education – SOARing to Success. London and New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis.
(This second edition is fully updated and is available in print and digital formats, with e-resources and a companion website. Please visit www.routledge.com/9780367648053 for more information.)
Porritt, J. (2012) The World We Made. Phaidon.
(This book reveals how it is possible to reach a genuinely sustainable world by 2050. It describes the key events, technological breakthroughs and lifestyle revolutions that will transform our planet.)
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