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Alumni gratitude and academics: Implications for engagement.

Cownie, F. and Gallo, M., 2020. Alumni gratitude and academics: Implications for engagement. Journal of Further and Higher Education. (In Press)

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DOI: 10.1080/0309877X.2020.1820457

Abstract

Gratitude may help Universities to sustain relationships with alumni and stimulate valuable input into current students’ learning experiences. This small-scale, qualitative study draws from the voices of alumni associated with a UK University. The study explores gratitude’s role within alumni’s reflections on Higher Education. We find that alumni’s feelings of gratitude appear to resonate most clearly towards academic teaching staff. Despite these feelings of gratitude, there are few verbal expressions of gratitude from alumni towards academics. Indeed, alumni have a variety of concerns about saying thank-you to academics including feeling awkward and may even see saying thank-you as a sign of weakness. However, hidden expressions of gratitude are evident. Alumni engage in behaviour which benefits the institution and are prepared to do more if asked, especially by key academic staff. We therefore suggest that it is useful to think of expressions of gratitude as known and unknown. The inequity between feelings of gratitude and known expressions of gratitude may mean that universities and academics remain less alert to the evidence and potency of gratitude within Higher Education than reality would merit. Indeed, we argue that gratitude is a central idea with the ability to inform HEIs’ alumni engagement strategies. This research presents an opportunity to understand the importance of alumni gratitude towards academics and how this can facilitate known expressions of gratitude from a growing alumni base, for the benefit of current students.

Item Type:Article
ISSN:0013-1326
Uncontrolled Keywords:alumni ; gratitude ; alumni engagement ; academics ; faculty ; expressions of gratitude
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:34508
Deposited By: Unnamed user with email symplectic@symplectic
Deposited On:07 Sep 2020 15:35
Last Modified:13 Oct 2020 11:05

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