ERG SES D 08, Social Justice and Education
AIM OF THE STUDY
This research work seeks to find the causes of dropout from Access to Higher Education courses and the practices that can encourage completion of those courses, especially among the people from deprived areas, while intending to answer the following research questions:
- What are the causes of dropout among Access to HE learners?
- What practices can encourage successful completion on this program?
- What are the factors that can influence these practices?
RATIONALE FOR THE STUDY
Contribution to professional development
To close the Gap in literature
Access to HE offering second chance
The benefits of HE participation for individuals and the society
The FE system is expected to be the powerhouse where skills needed at all levels in sustaining a competitive and advanced economy will be developed; making the society fairer and offering equal opportunities that will not be based on background, but on talent and effort (DfES, 2006). However, as key priorities of inclusion, raising standards and widening participation are addressed by colleges, FE teachers are faced with more challenges and changes (Huddleston and Unwin, 2013). Moreover, learning is to be understood as a cultural practice and does not simply occur in a cultural context; that is, learning culture should not be taken as the environment or context where the learning takes place, but the social practices by which people learn (James and Biesta, 2007).
Access to HE
Access to Higher Education Diplomas prepare those without traditional qualifications for university study (at degree level), making it possible for people who left school without the required qualification to go back to the university (Access to HE, 2017). They are full level 3 qualifications like A-levels (CAVA, 2017).
Ethnic minorities, women, working-class and disabled people were the targeted social group on the access courses, which was designated as ‘the third route’ into higher education (DES, 1987 as in Reay et al, 2002). However, students from minority ethnic groups, those having disabilities and those from disadvantaged areas were found to tend not to perform as well as those not having these characteristics and having the same previous educational attainment (HEFCE, 2015).
Giddens’ theory of Structuration and Bourdieu’s theory of Reproduction provide the theoretical framework for this study. Giddens’ theory is used in explaining the duality of structures, in terms of structure and agency, as it pertains to the Access to HE program, while the theory of reproduction helps in getting a good understanding of why students drop out from the access courses in relation to their individual backgrounds. Habitus, which refers to a basic set of principles by which the identity, judgements and actions of an individual across variety spheres of life are structured (Jackson and Hogg, 2010) is used in understanding the complexity of the choices made by these students to either complete their courses or drop out from them.
METHODOLOGY Ethical issues With most universities having ethics committee, whose demands must be complied with, approving all research in which human subjects are involved (Silverman, 2017), in the same way ethics approval was sort from the University of Leicester’s ethics committee before the commencement of this research. Method of data collection Six colleges are being used across three counties in the East of England and interview, which is an interaction between two or more people having a particular purpose in mind (Kumar, 2005) is the main method of data collection. Coordinators and tutors on Access to HE courses (one on a Science related course and one on a Non-Science related course) were given face to face interviews in each college. Students who have dropped out from Access to HE program and students who completed their access to HE courses, but decided not to proceed to HE were given telephone interviews, while focus group interviews were set up with students continuing with their Access to HE courses (two groups with students on Science related courses and two groups with students on Non-Science related courses in each college) in order to have their views. Data analysis Subsequently, data are being analysed as they are collected, using Thematic analysis, with Nvivo used in coding, to answer the research questions.
Contribution to knowledge The findings are expected to close the gap in literature and give a better insight into the way Access to HE program is conducted to benefit the whole society. CONCLUSION This proposal gives a brief summary of the research work, though the work is still on-going.
Access to Higher Education About the Access to Higher Education Diploma. Available at: https://www.accesstohe.ac.uk/Access/About/Pages/Default.aspx (Accessed: 06/08/2017) Busher, H., James, N., Dismore, H., Hudson, A. and Sutton (ed.) (2016) Labouring for Learning: Insights into the Lives of Mature Access to Higher Education Students. A Literature Review. Unpublished. CAVA (a) About CAVA. Available at: http://www.cava.ac.uk/about/ (Accessed: 06/08/2017). Department for Education and Skills (DfES) (2006) Further education: raising skills, improving life chances. Norwich: The Stationery Office. HEFCE (2016) New national outreach programme for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Available at: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/news/newsarchive/2016/Name,107804,en.html (Accessed: 24th April, 2018). HEFCE. (2015a) Delivering opportunities for students and maximising their success: Evidence for policy and practice 2015-2020. Available at: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/year/2015/201514/ (Accessed: 4/8/2017). HEFCE. (2015b) Differences in degree outcomes: The effect of subject and student characteristics. Available at: www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/year/2015/201521 (Accessed: 10th Jan, 2017). HEFCE (2015c) We need greater access to higher education – but student success is just as important. Available at: http://blog.hefce.ac.uk/2015/07/23/we-need-greater-access-to-higher-education-but-student-success-is-just-as-important/ (Accessed: 4/8/2017). Hinsliff-Smith, K., Gates, P. and Leducq, M. (2012) 'Persistence, how do they do it? A case study of Access to Higher Education learners on a U.K. Diploma/BSc nursing programme', Nurse education today, 32(1), pp. 27. Huddleston, P. and Unwin, L. (2013) Teaching and learning in further education: diversity and change. Routledge. Jackson, R.L. and Hogg, M.A. (2010) 'Habitus', in Jackson, R.L. and Hogg, M.A. (eds.) Encyclopedia of identity. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc., pp. 321-324. James, D. and Biesta, G. (2007) Improving learning cultures in further education. Routledge. James, N., Busher, H., Piela, A. and Palmer, A. (2013) 'Opening Doors to Higher Education: Access Students’ Learning Transitions. A Literature Review. Unpublished.', . Kevern, J., Ricketts, C. and Webb, C. (1999) 'Pre-registration diploma students: a quantitative study of entry characteristics and course outcomes', Journal of advanced nursing, 30(4), pp. 785. Kumar, R. (2005) Research methodology. 2. ed. edn. London [u.a.]: SAGE. QAA. (2014) The Access to Higher Education Diploma KEY STATISTICS 2012-13. Available at: file:///C:/Users/user/Desktop/AHE-Key-Statistics-14.pdf. (Accessed: 30th May, 2016). QAA (2016) The Access to Higher Education Diploma KEY STATISTICS 2014-15. Available at: https://www.accesstohe.ac.uk/AboutUs/Publications/Documents/AHE-Key-Statistics-2014-15.pdf(Accessed: 06/08/2017). Reay, D., Ball, S. and David, M. (2002) '‘It's Taking Me a Long Time but I'll Get There in the End’: Mature students on access courses and higher education choice', British Educational Research Journal, 28(1), pp. 5-19. Silverman, D. (2017) Doing qualitative research. 5th edn. London: SAGE. Smith, M.K. (2015) What is education? A definition and discussion. Available at: http://infed.org/mobi/what-is-education-a-definition-and-discussion/
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