The needs of stakeholders in the formation of a local children's university : an exploration through grounded theory of participant drivers and their underpinning features

Overton, David T.

April 2014

Thesis or dissertation

© 2014 David T Overton. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

There are over ninety local Children’s Universities (CUs) throughout the United Kingdom and overseas. CUs aim to recognise the learning needs of children which are met through extracurricular and out of school provision. The performance of some local CUs has been evaluated for the National Children’s University on an annual basis. There has never been a detailed exploration of factors underpinning the needs of stakeholders, including children, teachers, teacher education students and Higher Education tutors, involved in the formation of a local CU. The aim of this research was to identify motives for stakeholder participation in the local CU, to discover their needs and identify issues that contributed to those needs. This qualitative study used open, unstructured individual and focus group interviews with stakeholders using a constructivist grounded theory approach. The research identified that the unique approach by this CU benefited learners at several levels of development by providing a context within which children, teachers, teacher education students and Higher Education (HE) tutors could learn in a less formal way than in standard school practice. There was informal acquisition of knowledge and skills by children, continuing professional development for teachers and modelling of effective practice to teacher education students by their tutor. Teachers described the pedagogy adopted as innovative. They considered the tutor as a trusted expert who was able to support their professional development. Tutor credibility was enhanced in the eyes of the teacher education students who valued the opportunity to observe their tutor teaching children rather than just modelling it to them. These views were upheld in comments made by other education-related professionals, by school governors and by parents. Findings have implications for the professional development of teachers. They are relevant to current moves to ‘train’ new teachers in schools. This approach, with more emphasis on non-formal learning, is valued by students and by teachers but the latter, in particular, value the presence of someone with expertise to moderate the process.

Centre for Educational Studies, The University of Hull
Wright, Nigel; Williams, Peter, 1948 December 2-
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