Research Output
Getting in, getting on: fragility in student and graduate identity
  Over a period of three years this longitudinal study explored new approaches to consider student identity during the transition from university to employment. Students were followed through a new portfolio-based final year course and beyond university into the workplace. With universities increasingly recognising the employment aspirations of their students, facilitating self-awareness of graduate attributes and the development of employability skills are becoming integral to the higher education proposition; however the impact of employability initiatives is not well understood. The aim of the study was to examine changes in self-identification through the development of a portfolio of work using Holmes’ Claim Affirmation Model of Emergent Identity as the conceptual framework. Data was collected through student questionnaires and graduate interviews. The study uncovered the ways in which role models, developmental networks, and imaginings of a possible self were used in identity work. A fragile re-construction of identity was observed as graduates faced the labour market, with this fragility continuing to be experienced while navigating an uncertain work landscape. We used these findings to allow us to refine Holmes’ Model by (a) adding a dynamic element and (b) grounding it on longitudinal data.

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  • Date:

    05 May 2019

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  • Library of Congress:

    QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    003.3 Computer modelling & simulation

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Smith, S., Sobolewska, E., & Hunter, D. (2019). Getting in, getting on: fragility in student and graduate identity. Higher Education Research and Development, 38(5), 1046-1060.



student identity; graduate identity; fragile identity; portfolio; employability,;curriculum design

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