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Career learning


Career learning is about facilitating learning processes and activities that develop the students’ skills to navigate their careers and to become aware of and articulate their own competencies. Career learning can take place by taking the subject into the world, bringing the world into the subject, and taking the subject into the mind.


Developing the students’ career competencies

A career is defined as the individual’s path through education and work. Career learning is the learning process connected to developing the students’ career competencies. Career competencies can be defined as: 

"The ability to understand and develop one’s self, to explore life, learning and work and to navigate life, learning and work during times of change and transition. It’s about being aware of what you’re doing but also what you can do, and being aware that the individual is formed by her way of life and actions but also influences her own opportunities for the future” (Thomsen, 2014)

Laura Cordes Felby tells about career learning:


As a teacher, your role in career learning is therefore to facilitate learning processes and activities that develop the students’ ability to navigate their careers in times of change and transition.


The relevance of the subject

By including career learning as an active part of your course, you can highlight the relevance of the subject and degree programme to the labour market and to society more generally. You can also help students become more aware of and articulate their own competencies, which in turn can help the students clarify and reflect on:

  • Jobs and professions that appeal and do not appeal to them
  • The way individuals develop and relate to themselves during times of transition
  • How values, norms and society play a role in an individual’s career


Three dimensions when working with career learning in your course

Career learning can be incorporated into a degree programme using the didactic career learning model. This model focuses on three dimensions:

  • Taking the subject into the world
  • Bringing the world into the subject
  • Taking the subject into the mind

Here we describe these dimensions separately, but, in practice, they will overlap. The amount of time, focus and emphasise devoted to each dimension will depend on the teacher, degree programme and subject. The model can be used for an individual course or for an entire degree programme.

Taking the subject into the world

The dimension ‘taking the subject into the world’ involves taking the degree programme, course and subject expertise – in other words, the knowledge generated inside AU’s yellow walls – out into the world. There are many good reasons to take a subject out into the world. For example:

  • To connect the content of the course/degree programme to a specific practice.
  • To give the students an insight into how the specific course or degree programme in its entirety ‘looks’ or translates into reality.
  • To transform the course from a knowledge and research subject to a subject in a specific practice.

You can take the subject into the world by:

  • Collaborating with companies and organisations
  • Completing work placements
  • Studying abroad on exchange programmes
  • Writing a company thesis
  • Taking on relevant student jobs

These options often have to be actively chosen by the student – usually at the expense of other opportunities or subjects on the degree programme. It is important to consider how the experiences students gain out in the world can be connected back to the subject or degree programme, since this is often overlooked. 

Bringing the world into the subject

The dimension ‘bringing the world into the subject’ involves bringing the knowledge that is generated outside AU’s yellow walls into the course, subject expertise and degree programme. There are many good reasons to bring the world into the subject. For example:

  • To invite the ‘reality’ of the subject into the course and degree programme, and to relate this closely to the curricular content.
  • To give the students an insight into how current reality affects the subject, knowledge and skills.
  • To increase student motivation and engagement.

By bringing the world into the subject, emphasis is placed on transforming the subject from a knowledge and research subject to a subject in practice.

You can bring the world into the subject by:

  • Inviting guest lecturers or alumni to explain how they use their subject knowledge in their career.
  • Reflecting regularly on the relationship between understanding the subject and using the subject in the world.
  • Applying the subject and subject knowledge to current issues, such as the changeability of society, the challenges and opportunities associated with globalisation, and sustainability.

Taking the subject into the mind

For this dimension, we could also say ‘body’ or ‘person’ instead of ‘mind’. The most important thing is that the students themselves are the starting point for career learning. There are many reasons for getting the subject into the mind. For example:

  • To allow space for the students to develop a sense of self-knowledge and self-awareness.
  • To enable students to reflect on their knowledge, skills and competences – using themselves as the starting point.

The subject can be taken into the mind through meta-reflections and multi-subject reflections on the student’s knowledge, skills and competencies. You may like to consider the following questions:

  • Which strategies does the student have at their disposal to complete the given task?
  • What role does the student play in their study group and class teaching?
  • What motivates/inspires/provokes the student in relation to the degree programme/subject/topic/text?
  • What does the degree programme/subject/topic/text say about society and the student’s role in society?
  • Which personal and academic competences does the student develop through the subject’s methods and content?

These reflections can be integrated as questions that are asked throughout the course or degree programme, for example in the student’s portfolio, as forum questions in Brightspace, or as individual or group reflection exercises in class.

Career learning in class and on a degree programme

If you would like to incorporate more career learning into your degree programme or course, you can start by obtaining an overview of what you are already doing on your course and what is already offered as part of the degree programme. When you decide to focus more on career learning in your course, you can start by considering which dimension you wish to work on and which specific teaching activities can support this.

Laura Cordes Felby Tells about "How can we incorporate Career learning into lessons?":


Activity: Map your own teaching or degree programme

The mapping tool below will help make clear what the students are already being offered – and what you can hopefully offer students in the future in regard to their career learning. The tool can be used for an individual course or for an entire degree programme.

Mapping career learning on a degree programme or on a course 

Udfyld de tre cirkler, som omfavner modellen: 

  • Fill in the three circles that surround the model.

  • In the inner circle, write everything that you are already doing in relation to each dimension.

  • In the middle circle, write everything that you would like to do going forward.

  • In the outer circle, write the services currently available to students outside the degree programme. For example, initiatives run by your local career guidance centre or mentoring schemes.

Considerations for the teacher

  • Which academic and social competences do you expect the students to develop in your course?
  • Why is your subject important for the students’ future on the labour market, and how does your course equip them for this?
  • What types of company collaboration match the academic objectives or your course and the students' prerequisites?
  • How can you make sure that the students' experience from company collaborations or project placements are brought into play in your course?



    Examples of practice

      Further reading


      Please contact the editors at AU Educate if you have any questions about the content of the platform or if you need consultation on your teaching from one of the many skilled professionals at the Centre for Educational Development