22 SES 12 D, Transitions and Advancements in HE
In the context of the Bologna process the European university landscape experienced fundamental change over the last one and a half decades. Among others higher education is expected to enable lifelong learning processes by offering flexible learning paths and study programmes and opening up to non-traditional students (see Slowey & Schuetze 2012). According to the German Scientific Council universities have to prepare for the fact that graduates, leaving university with a Bachelor’s degree, are likely to come back after several years of work-life to continue their education (Wissenschaftsrat 2006). Due to issues of funding in the German higher education system, addressing professionals means to develop special study programmes that have to be separated from regular full-time studies. Being part of the universities’ continuing education for external addressees these fee-based programmes are usually organised in a part-time structure including distance learning elements. Their number has increased ever since their introduction and they are experiencing strong demands.
Although the idea of part-time study programmes is to make higher education accessible from different points of the learners’ biographies, little is known so far about the biographies of the students who choose to take part. The research questions that steered my doctoral thesis (Lobe 2015) were therefore: At which point of their biography do professionals decide to participate in a part-time study programme? What does their participation mean to them? How do they combine learning and working? Which biographical effects result from their participation?
Biographical studies in the field of university continuing education are rare. Existing studies frequently aim at biographically embedded study motivations and their relation to study experiences (e.g. Eastmond 1995) rather than on the biographical ‘effects’ of a part-time study programme. This is where transition research gets into the focus of attention. It deals with life events that cause change and shifts in identity and agency (see Ecclestone 2009), such as illness, parenthood or job entry. Often the role of education is, rightly, considered to prepare for, accompany or support those transitions. In addition, and this is the scope of this paper, the participation in adult or higher education can also form a biographical transition itself (see also Field 2009).
In the German transition research Welzers (1993) conception of transitions gained extensive attention. He describes them as socially processed, dense and accelerated phases in a life-course that underlies permanent change. Transitions therefore do not have clear beginnings or endings, nor can they be determined from an objective point of view, but depend on the subjective interpretation of the individual. Welzer develops his understanding of transitions against the background of socialisation theory. However, his definition makes clear that this transition concept is also compatible with a biographical approach that better suits the epistemological interest of this study.
In educational sciences biographies are predominantly interpreted in a social-constructivist way. Accordingly, they come across as social constructions (see Alheit & Dausien, 2000) in which individuals interpret their lived lives. These constructions are considered to be social as the individual is embedded in a “life-world” (Schütz & Luckmann, 1973) in which certain patterns of interpretation are continuously being produced and reproduced by social practices (Alheit & Dausien, 2000). Biographical constructions do not only refer to the past, but also have a future dimension, since individuals tend to plan and shape their future lives. In conclusion, a biographical perspective on transition means to examine a life event within the biographical constructions of individuals and relate it to their biographical past as well as to their ideas for their biographical future. This demands a methodological approach that can meet these requirements.
Alheit, P. & Dausien, B. (2000). Die biographische Konstruktion der Wirklichkeit. Überlegungen zur Biographizität des Sozialen. In E. Hoerning (Ed.), Biographische Sozialisation (pp. 257-283). Stuttgart: Lucius & Lucius. Assink, M.H.J. & Schroots, J.J.F. (2010). The Dynamics of Autobiographical Memory. Using the LIM Life-line Interview Method. Cambridge: Hogrefe. Bourdieu, P. (2010). Distinction. A social critique of the judgement of taste. Routledge classics (Reprint.). London: Routledge. Corbin, J. & Strauss, A. (2008). Basics of Qualitative Research. Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory (3rd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage. Eastmond, D.V. (1995). Alone but together. Adult Distance Study Through Computer Conferencing. Cresskill: Hampton Press. Ecclestone, K. (2009). Lost and found in transition. Educational implications of concerns about ‘identity’, ‘agency’ and ‘structure’. In K. Ecclestone, B. Biesta & M. Hughes (eds.): Transitions and Learning Through the Lifecourse (pp. 9-27). London and New York: Routledge. Field, J. (2009). Learning Transitions in the Adult Life Course. Agency, Identity and Social Capital. In B. Merrill (Ed.), Learning to Change? The Role of Identity and Learning Careers in Adult Education (pp. 17-31). Frankfurt/Main: Peter Lang. Fischer, W. & Kohli, M. (1987). Biographieforschung. In W. Voges (Ed.): Methoden der Biographie- und Lebenslaufforschung (pp. 25-49). Opladen: Leske und Budrich. Hinton-Smith, T. (2009): Lone Parents as HE Students. A Qualitative Email Study. In B. Merrill (Ed.), Learning to Change? The Role of Identity and Learning Careers in Adult Education (pp. 113-127). Frankfurt/Main: Peter Lang. Lobe, C. (2015). Hochschulweiterbildung als biografische Transition. Teilnehmerperspektiven auf berufsbegleitende Studienangebote. Heidelberg: Springer VS. Schütz, A. & Luckmann, Th. (1973). The structures of the life-world. Evanston: Northwestern University Press. Slowey, M. & Schuetze, H. G. (Eds.) (2012). Global Perspectives on Higher Education and Lifelong Learning. London and New York: Routledge. Strauss, A. (1987). Qualitative analysis for social scientists. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Welzer, H. (1993). Transitionen. Zur Sozialpsychologie biographischer Wandlungsprozesse. Tübingen: Edition Diskord. Wissenschaftsrat (2006). Empfehlungen zur künftigen Rolle der Universitäten im Wissenschaftssystem. Retrieved January 09, 2015, from http://www.wissenschaftsrat.de/download/archiv/rolle_universitaeten.pdf Witzel, A. & Reiter, H. (2012). The Problem-Centred Interview. Los Angeles: Sage.
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.