Detailed Program of the Conference

Parallel sessions - C.4 From Higher Education To Professional Contexts: Experiences Of Personalization
Friday, 04/June/2021:
9:00am - 11:15am

Session Chair: Laura Formenti
Session Chair: Andrea Galimberti
Location: Room 2
Session Panels:
C.4. From Higher Education to Professional Contexts: Experiences of Personalization



Alessandra Rigamonti1, Silvia Luraschi2

1Università degli Studi Milano Bicocca, Italia; 2Independent researcher collaborating with Università degli Studi Milano Bicocca, Italia

Residential child care (RCC) services have been invested by a professionalization process: for instance, since 2018 the workers need to hold a 3-year bachelor degree in educational sciences. On the one hand this process led to recognition of the important role of RCC professionals who need to be qualified; on the other hand, the training standardization and the focus on theory and research may lose perspective of the specificity of contexts, regional policies, workgroup and previous experience of future practitioners.

An innovative Professional Master Programme (first level) focused on “good practices” in residential child care, co-designed with institutions and NGOs is a lifelong learning opportunity to develop knowledge, skills, and competences about this demanding and challenging job. RCC workers are called to embody layered and sometimes contradictory dimensions (daily life, care planning and evaluation, organizational and relational tasks…) in dynamic and unpredictable interaction with children, adolescents, families, team’s colleagues, other welfare system services, and communities. Multidisciplinary lectures, training weekends and 500 hours internship offer a strong connection between theory and practice in RCC. Moreover, it represents for students a concrete job opportunity and for NGOs it also means a way to meet professional social workers with high competences and well-motivation.

According to this framework, a tutorial class conducted online by both authors with the Master’s director is based on reflexivity, as meta-competence, by enhancing emotional, cognitive and epistemic self-awareness, systemic wisdom, abduction and active listening. Our pedagogical epistemology is based on transformative learning theories (Formenti, West, 2018), the potential learning values of narratives and aesthetical languages (Luraschi, 2020), and the recognition of the learners’ capacity for self-knowledge in relation to the context (personalization). The authors used a compositional methodology that creates a learning setting in which the students, both individually and collectively, generate personal and professional stories through body movements, expressive drawing and imaginative exercises in order to become aware about their individual, relational and cultural meaning schemes. Preliminary reflections on the role of reflexivity in relation to adult education and RCC work, based on the video recording of tutorial classes and the students’ works (texts, drawings…) will be presented.

Promoting reflexivity in a RCC training is a way to overcome the dichotomy of the traditional idea of a “good-hearted” professional or a theoretical expert (Formenti, Rigamonti, 2020). This meta-competence is a way to connect different layers: theoretical, aesthetical, experiential, and practical knowledge; personal and professional attitudes and skills; application of acknowledged models and RCC daily life.


Formenti, L. & West, L. (2018). Transforming perspectives in lifelong learning and adult education: A dialogue. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Formenti L. & Rigamonti A. (2020). “Systemic Reflexivity in Residential Child Care: A Pedagogical Frame to Empower Professional Competence”. In International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies, 11(4.2), pp. 115-139.

Luraschi, S. (2020). “Research through, and on, Embodied Movement in Orienting One’s Self towards the Future”. In B. Grummell, & F. Finnegan (Eds), Doing Critical and Creative Research in Adult Education (pp. 191-202). Rotterdam: Brill Sense.


Nadia Sansone1, Manuela Fabbri2

1Unitelma Sapienza, Italy; 2University of Bologna, Italy

One of the main goals of higher education is to ensure that students acquire useful skills to achieve success in their future career and in life in general. Since the context in which today’s students live and work is that of a highly technological knowledge work society, students should learn to act and work intentionally and effectively, individually, or together with others, in authentic contexts, solving complex problems and creating new solutions and new knowledge (Sansone et al, 2019). Supporting the development of these skills signifies a need for educational agencies to review curricula and pedagogical practices (OECD 2013, 2019). To this aim, technology could be used to promote learning environments in which students are involved in activities that allow them to truly collaborate. The possibilities of real collaborative learning depend on highly structured intra-group interactions, strictly designated around well-defined scripts, such as the role taking (Strijbos & De Laat, 2010).

This explorative study aims to inform on the innovative pedagogical practices that were adopted in a university course by reporting on the observed impact on students’ perceptions of knowledge-work skills and on their appreciation of the course. Forty-eight students (avg. age: 24) participated in the course of ‘Special Didactics Pedagogy’, offered at the University of Bologna (Italy; 2020-2021). The students were divided into six learning groups (7-9 members). The course lasted six weeks, organized into two modules, during which students covered specific roles to accomplish their collaborative task.

To examine the course impact, a self-report anonymous pre-post questionnaire was administered to the students (N=37). The questionnaire comprises 1–5-point Likert scale to investigate students’ perception about their development of the targeted skills and open-ended questions about pros and cons of the learning approach just experienced. Descriptive statistics of the closed responses were calculated, whereas the open questions were analyzed through content analysis.

When considering student perceptions their skills development, it seems that the learning approach effectively promoted the targeted knowledge work skills. Improvements emerged in each of the considered scale, particularly those related to effective communication, time-management, digital content creation and problem solving. Students also recognized the advantages of working in groups and acquiring skills such as being flexible and integrating new learning strategies for the sake of achieving a common goal.

Of course, we recognize this study has some limitation, such as the limited sample and the focus on students’ perception that led us to reframe it into a larger study where these data will be integrated with a finer analysis of the interactions and of the products.

OECD. 2013. The Survey of Adult Skills: Reader’s Companion. Paris: OECD Publishing.

OECD (2019). Talis 2018 Results (Volume I): Teachers and School Leader as Lifelong Learners. Paris: OECD Publishing

Sansone, N., Cesareni, D., Ligorio, M. B., Bortolotti, I. & Buglass, S. L. (2019). Developing knowledge work skills in a university course, in Research Papers in Education, 35 (1), 23-42

Strijbos, J. W., and M. F. De Laat. 2010. “Developing the Role Concept for Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning: An Explorative Synthesis.” Computers in Human Behavior 26 (4): 495–505.


Vanna Boffo, Letizia Gamberi

University of Florence, Italy

Developing competences focused on creativity, flexibility and sense of initiative (WEF, 2020) is a priority on the European Agenda to keep up in a rapidly changing world. The European Commission since 2006 has included entrepreneurial competences among the key competences for lifelong learning and emphasized the relationship between entrepreneurship and employability (Bacigalupo, 2016). These competences are increasingly required for an effective transition into the labor market and to generate value (be it economic, cultural or social) within organizational contexts, to face the current social and economic challenges and transformations. Educational research may appear, at a first glance, distant from this subject; but, on the contrary, it is called to provide its own perspective, pedagogically oriented, to not trace these issues only to profit logic (Nussbaum, 2012). Instead, educational research can provide a paradigm of human development.

How are these competences developed and through which paths and methods is it possible to acquire them? In the context of the University of Florence, the Career Service is a center where didactics, research, and the third mission, conceived. It plays a fundamental role in the development of entrepreneurial skills and in accompanying students through the construction of their personal and professional life projects, especially in view of education-to-work transitions.

The Entrepreneurial Training provides an opportunity for students to develop entrepreneurship and it is focused as a special pathway to boost employability (Moreland, 2006). The purpose of the training is to create spaces for innovation, strengthen entrepreneurial skills, and develop a plan to imagine the future professional projects. In detail, the objectives are: the analysis of the needs of the context, the generation of an innovative solution to current daily problems through team work, the preparation of a final elevator pitch. The pathway follows the “teaching through entrepreneurship” approach (Lackéus, 2015), based on an experiential and embedded model, and the Design Thinking method. The current format, implemented for the first time in 2017, is now in its 26th edition, for a total of about 700 participating students.

The case study is presented as a best practice to illustrate how universities can point toward building employability and take care of cultivating their students’ professional skills so that they can drive growth and innovation, and above all be active protagonists of the new world and well-lived lives (Terzaroli, 2019).


Bacigalupo M., Kampylis P., Punie Y., Van den Brande G. (2016), EntreComp: The Entrepreneurship Competence Framework, Publications Office of the European Union: Luxembourg.

Federighi P. (ed.) (2018), Educazione in età adulta: ricerche, politiche, luoghi e professioni, Firenze University Press: Firenze.

Lackéus M. (2015), Entrepreneurship in Education – What, Why, When, How, OECD Publishing: Paris.

Moreland N. (2006). Entrepreneurship and higher education: An employability perspective. The Higher Education Academy: York.

Nussbaum M. (2012), Non per profitto, il Mulino: Bologna.

Terzaroli C. (2019). Entrepreneurship as a Special Pathway for Employability. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 2019(163), 121-131.

World Economic Forum. (2020). The Future of Jobs Report 2020. World Economic Forum, Geneva, Switzerland.


Glenda Galeotti, Debora Daddi

University of Florence, Italy

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated and increased inequalities in many countries and particularly in Italy, where the social lift had already been blocked for some time (WEF, 2020). For coming back to being a means of social mobility, education and training, including higher education, should foster their emancipatory function, trough: developing the talents of learners (Margiotta, 2018); strengthening the relationship with the world of work and society as a whole (Federighi, 2018); promoting active exploration of a wide range of skills and training paths capable of responding to aspirations for self-realization and people well-being in a lifelong learning perspective (Sultana, 2020); understanding how social, cultural and gender stereotypes influence personal and professional projects, linking them to the reproduction of social inequality (Musset & Kurekova, 2018).

Our study investigates the relationship between personalized education and employability in HE. Personalized education concerns recognition of individual aspirations (Gardiner & Goedhuys, 2020), quality of learning outcomes (CEDEFOP, 2017), a consistent career guidance (Watts, 2013) and the achievement of functional and personal skills (Nussbaum, 2011). On other side, employability is the process of acquiring, maintaining and developing skills, knowledge to enter and remain in the labour market (Knight & Yorke 2006; Boffo & Fedeli, 2018; Peeters et al. 2019). The study objective is to experiment with an educational device to support the employability in master degree course at University of Florence, starting from students’ aspirations and their professional development projects. Following a grounded theory approach (Glaser & Strauss, 1967), the research collects empirical evidence that support a local and situated theory on connection between personalized education and employability.

A profiling of the master's degree students is the main research result, as an empirical basis for developing employability and personalization strategies and bringing back to a shared framework services, initiatives and educational actions (syllabus, guidance, internships, etc.) implemented in the HE course.


Boffo V., Fedeli M. (2018). Employability & Competences: Innovative Curricula for New Professions. Firenze: FUP.

CEDEFOP (2017). Defining, writing and applying learning outcomes. Cedefop.

Federighi P. (2018). La ricerca in educazione degli adulti nelle università italiane. In P. Federighi (eds.). Educazione in età adulta. Ricerche, politiche, luoghi e professioni. Firenze: FUP.

Gardiner D., Goedhuys, M. (2020). Youth aspirations and the future of work: a review of the literature and evidence. ILO Working Papers.

Margiotta U. (2018). La formazione dei talenti come nuova frontiera. Formazione e Insegnamento, XVI/2.

Musset, P., Kurekova, L. (2018). Working it out: Career Guidance and Employer Engagement. Paris: OECD Publishing.

Peeters E., Nelissen J., De Cuyper N., Forrier A., Verbruggen M., De Witte H. (2019). Employability Capital: A Conceptual Framework Tested Through Expert Analysis. Journal of Career Development, 46 (2): 79–93.

Sultana, R. (2020). Authentic education for meaningful work: Beyond 'career management skills. In P. Robertson, P. McCash, T. Hooley (Eds.). Oxford Handbook of Career Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Watts A. G. (2013). Career guidance and orientation. UNESCO-UNEVOC.

WEF (2020). The Global Social Mobility Report 2020. WEF.