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Aspirations Mapping Toolkit

One of the key outcomes of this project, the Connect2Aspire Aspirations Mapping Toolkit has been designed to support research and engaged practice with young people finding themselves at a crossroads, having to make choices that will define the rest of their life and career pathways: young people in transition. The focus of the toolkit is on the young person, more precisely on an inner determinant that can act at the same time as a beacon, vehicle and driver for enhanced training, life and career development: their life and career aspirations. As a psychological construct, a young person’s aspiration is not merely a wish, a dream, or a faraway, elusive goal. Aspirations bridge between what a person wilfully seeks to attain and a deep understanding of one’s own capacity to reach out to it, accompanied by awareness of aspects that one has to shape or build, such as personal competences or social networks and opportunities. As such, aspirations are not found, they are crystallised and built. From this perspective centred on the young person, this toolkit is first and foremost a tool for raising awareness about and enhancing reflexive engagement with aspirations in young people.

Who is this toolkit for?

The toolkit addresses researchers and practitioners whose interest in working with and supporting young people might be associated with different areas: career development, social care, communication for social change, education and so on. Practice-based researchers might use these insights in order to devise novel, richer data collection protocols for investigating the relationship between aspirations, communication and creative engagement. The materials inside include applied practical guidance for data collection via aspirations mapping workshops, and theoretical insight for analysing data in consideration of the multi-disciplinary body of theory surrounding aspirations research. Practitioners can find within a series of ready-made templates to use for aspirations mapping workshops with young people, which they can use as such or adapt for their contexts and needs.

Whether addressing researchers or practitioners, at the core remains a genuine preoccupation with knowledge generation and support: as a research tool, the kit incorporates a practice-based approach, where workshops are used to generate rich, reflective data about young people’s aspirations. As a practice tool, it integrates a component of knowledge generation, which can enhance understanding for the kind of support that young people need as they advance towards the aspirations and goals.

Toolkit contents

The toolkit includes three stand-alone components, each offering a unique strategy for youth engagement:

Aspirations mapping through creative expression

Offers an engagement approach that uses the reflexive and expressive potential of participatory photography and zine making.

Aspirations mapping and communicative ecologies

Focuses on the role of media and social networking to make sense of aspirations development, while also drawing on the power of social connections to support young people to crystallise and follow their aspirations.

Mapping pathways to creative careers

Addresses young people interested in creative careers, helping them reflect on skills and pathways to creative sectors, helped by skilled facilitators and (ideally) by creative professionals/employers.

Each of these toolkits includes insight and guidance for practice and research:

  • Research: Includes a working paper that maps the theory underpinning a specific strand of the toolkit; and/or reflective briefs based on workshops conducted as part of the Connect2Aspire research.
  • Application: Offers a workshop-based format that can be adapted for engaging young people in aspirations mapping and associated materials (a personal board/zine/careers map, facilitation cards and a workshop guide).

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