22 SES 04 D, Student Transitions and Graduate Employability
In this paper I look at how students evoke the process of deciding to study at university, I consider what applying to university means to students who live in two different country contexts – England and Romania – how that relates to the journey they have embarked on and how it is storied into their lives. With this discussion my aim is to answer the following research question: what circumstances and motives lead youngsters to choose to go to university? First, I present how students regard higher education (HE) and why they decided to embark on this journey, and then I focus on the details of how they made the decision and what were the factors that impacted on their choices. Apart from considering the individual circumstances, I was also interested to understand and describe how higher education decision-making is exercised in the two country systems, whether it is similar or different and why.
In education research information about the decision-making processes of pupils is gathered either retrospectively, varying times after their university application, by asking students or graduates about past events and choices (see Brooks & Everett 2008; Greenbank 2009; Lexmond & Bradley 2010) or prospectively, varying times before application, by asking pupils about their plans and viewpoints related to higher education studies (see du Bois-Reymond 1998, 2004; Reay, David & Ball 2005; Bates et al. 2009). Few longitudinal studies exist that try to offer a more holistic picture of the decision-making process (see Hodkinson et al. 1996; Hodkinson & Sparkes 1997 for students in VET; Purcell et al. 2008 for students in higher education). My research corresponds to the first, I gathered information from students retrospectively, but my aim was to gain a holistic picture of their decision-making, so I conducted the research from a biographical perspective, using students’ life stories as basis for social research in order to understand processes of transitions (Merrill & West 2009). This perspective, as Goodson and Sikes (2001) argue, has “the potential to make a far-reaching contribution to the problem of understanding the links between ‘personal troubles’ and ‘public issues’”.
du Bois-Reymond, M. 1998. ‘I don't want to commit myself yet’: young people's life concepts. Journal of Youth Studies, 1 (1), pp. 63–79. Brannen, J. and Nilsen, A. 2011. Comparative biographies in case-based cross-national research: methodological considerations. Sociology, 45(4), pp. 603–618. Brooks, R. and Everett, G. 2008. New European learners? An analysis of the ‘trendsetter’ thesis. Journal of Youth Studies, 11 (4), pp. 377–391. Clandinin, D. and Connelly, F. 2000. Narrative inquiry. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Cortazzi, M. 1993. Narrative analysis. London: Falmer Press. Goodson, I. and Sikes, P. 2001. Life history research in educational settings - learning from lives. Doing qualitative research in educational settings. Buckingham: Open University Press. Greenbank, P. 2009. An examination of the role of values in working‐class students’ career decision‐making. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 33(1), pp. 33–44. Hodkinson, P., Sparkes, A. and Hodkinson, H. 1996. Triumphs and tears: young people, markets, and the transition from school to work. London: D. Fulton Publishers. Lieblich, A., Tuval-Mashiach, R. and Zilber, T. 1998. Narrative Research: Reading, Analysis, and Interpretation (Applied Social Research Methods). London: Sage Publications. Lieblich, A., Zilber, T., Tuval-Mashiach, R. 2008. Narrating human actions: The subjective experience of agency, structure, communion and serendipity. Qualitative Inquiry 14(4), pp. 613–631. Merrill, B. and West, L. 2009. Using biographical methods in social research. London: SAGE Publications. Purcell, K., Elias, P., Ellison, R., Atfield, G., Adam, D. and Livanos, I. 2008. Applying for higher education-the diversity of career choices, plans and expectations: findings from the first Futuretrack Survey of the ‘Class of 2006’applicants for higher education. Manchester: HECSU/IER. Reay, D., David, M. and Ball, S. 2005. Degrees of Choice: Social Class, Race and Gender in Higher Education. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books. Riessman, C. K. 1993. Narrative analysis. California: Sage. Squire, C. 2008. Experience-centered and culturally-oriented approaches to narrative research. In: Andrews, M., Squire, C. and Tamboukou, M. eds. 2008. Doing narrative research. London: Sage Publications. pp. 41–63. Ward, B. 2003. Reflecting on the value and use of the edited topical life history approach - a research approach. In: O'Donoghue, T. and Punch, K. eds. Qualitative educational research in action - doing and reflecting. London: Routledge Farmer, pp. 26–41. Webster, L. and Mertova, P. 2007. Using Narrative Inquiry as a Research Method: An Introduction to Using Critical Event Narrative Analysis in Research on Learning and Teaching. London: Routledge.
Search the ECER Programme
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.