An examination of the experience of individuals, from different vocational and academic entry routes, on a B.A. Educational Studies degree and in subsequent postgraduate study or employment
Thesis or dissertation
- © 2011 Angela Shaw. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.
This research, undertaken between 2004 and 2010, examines the progress of a single cohort of students on an undergraduate degree – the B.A. Educational Studies – at the University of Hull. It investigates their entry profiles, their progress on the degree and the impact their studies have had on their postgraduate lives.
The research has been informed by a range of literature, most notably that of Archer et al. (2003), Thomas (2001), Wolf (2002) and Connor et al. (2006), in its examination of the policy and values underpinning education as a force for economic growth; widening participation; the impact of family background in relation to education; and the links between vocational and academic entry routes to higher education. The research has been set within a series of policy and value contexts, moving from the global to the national and finally to the local.
The research combines quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate an overarching research question: How does the performance and experience of students on a B.A. Educational Studies degree relate to their prior qualifications and background? This has been done through an examination of seven key sub-questions:
1. What kinds of students are enrolled for an Educational Studies degree at the University of Hull?
2. Why do students apply to do an Educational Studies degree at the University of Hull?
3. Whom do Hull University admissions staff admit to an Educational Studies degree?
4. How do these students perform on the degree?
5. Do students with different entry profiles perform differently on the degree?
6. What are the students‟ eventual ambitions? Do these change, or stay the same? If they change, what leads to this?
7. How beneficial have the students‟ pre-university experiences been in preparing them for undergraduate study, postgraduate study/work?
The outcome of the research shows that the students are predominantly young and female, living in or near to Hull. Applicants from traditional academic entry routes were accepted with a wider range of UCAS points than students from vocational entry routes, but both groups fared equally well on the degree, whatever the nature of their pre-entry qualifications or whichever subjects they studied beforehand. Mature students, in general, had higher achievement rates on the degree than younger students. In their early postgraduate lives, the students themselves perceived their pre-entry qualifications as having provided little benefit in preparing them for their undergraduate studies, but those with vocational qualifications had found these useful in their postgraduate studies and working lives. Later interviews suggested that these perceptions began to change once the former students were settled in careers. From the research, it emerges that – outwith the nature of students‟ entry qualifications – family background and teacher expectations have importance in determining the students‟ reasons for entering higher education. In addition, one of the most significant factors in their successfully gaining graduate jobs appears to have been students‟ access to work experience both before coming to university and during their time as undergraduates. The sample interviewed three years after graduation was able to reflect on their degree studies as having been a positive and personally fulfilling experience, a finding that relates to key literature underpinning the research.
- Department of Education, The University of Hull
- Qualification level
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