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Accommodating diversity within occupational therapy education: exploring the experiences of non-traditional students

Accommodating diversity within occupational therapy education: exploring the experiences of non-traditional students
Accommodating diversity within occupational therapy education: exploring the experiences of non-traditional students
Marking the intersection of the fields of higher education (HE) and professional practice, pre-registration occupational therapy (OT) education in the UK is subject to various government agendas, including an ongoing commitment to widening participation in HE and to diversifying the health and social care workforce to reflect modern social cultural. With 67% of the 2005 intake classified as mature (COT, 2007) and increasing numbers entering with non-traditional academic backgrounds, the OT student population in the UK is changing. Compared to more ‘traditional’ students, the skills, prior experiences and expectations of students with non-traditional academic backgrounds may generate particular challenges in negotiating the transition to, and persisting and succeeding within HE (HEFCE, 2002; Walker et al., 2004). Students from such backgrounds who graduate from OT programmes are as academically successful as traditional school-leavers (Howard and Jerosch-Herold 2000; Shanahan 2004), but there is little evidence offering insight into how they actually experience and negotiate the demands of their programmes of study.

This paper considers the educational experiences of OT students from a range of non-traditional academic backgrounds. Thirteen volunteer participants were recruited to a longitudinal exploratory case study centred in one of the UK’s research intensive universities, and data were collected via focus groups, reflective diaries and semi-structured interviews over the course of participants’ studies. Theoretical thematic analysis of data was underpinned by Bourdieu’s key conceptual tools of habitus, field and capital. The findings reveal the complex nature of participant’s engagement with HE, highlighting a number of key issues including the high-value status of linguistic capital, its relationship to understanding the rules governing practices within the learning environment, the processes via which students manage to adapt to or even resist the dominant culture of the educational field, and some of the barriers to finding a legitimate position within it.

This study illuminates student experiences in a powerful way, highlighting that failure to acknowledge the pervading culture inherent within individual HE institutions and to recognise the often unspoken demands that define legitimate presentation of knowledge and understanding is likely to impede efforts to diversify the graduating student body and the OT workforce.
Watson, J.
933e2e9a-e3e9-4a05-9f86-f7bdafd8827c
Nind, M.
b1e294c7-0014-483e-9320-e2a0346dffef
Borthwick, A.M.
b4d1fa51-182d-4296-b5fe-5b7c32ef6f9d
Humphris, D.
e4a78280-3729-4b9a-822f-8cd77b8831a4
Watson, J.
933e2e9a-e3e9-4a05-9f86-f7bdafd8827c
Nind, M.
b1e294c7-0014-483e-9320-e2a0346dffef
Borthwick, A.M.
b4d1fa51-182d-4296-b5fe-5b7c32ef6f9d
Humphris, D.
e4a78280-3729-4b9a-822f-8cd77b8831a4

Watson, J., Nind, M., Borthwick, A.M. and Humphris, D. (2010) Accommodating diversity within occupational therapy education: exploring the experiences of non-traditional students. 15th World Congress of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists, Chile. 04 - 07 May 2010.

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)

Abstract

Marking the intersection of the fields of higher education (HE) and professional practice, pre-registration occupational therapy (OT) education in the UK is subject to various government agendas, including an ongoing commitment to widening participation in HE and to diversifying the health and social care workforce to reflect modern social cultural. With 67% of the 2005 intake classified as mature (COT, 2007) and increasing numbers entering with non-traditional academic backgrounds, the OT student population in the UK is changing. Compared to more ‘traditional’ students, the skills, prior experiences and expectations of students with non-traditional academic backgrounds may generate particular challenges in negotiating the transition to, and persisting and succeeding within HE (HEFCE, 2002; Walker et al., 2004). Students from such backgrounds who graduate from OT programmes are as academically successful as traditional school-leavers (Howard and Jerosch-Herold 2000; Shanahan 2004), but there is little evidence offering insight into how they actually experience and negotiate the demands of their programmes of study.

This paper considers the educational experiences of OT students from a range of non-traditional academic backgrounds. Thirteen volunteer participants were recruited to a longitudinal exploratory case study centred in one of the UK’s research intensive universities, and data were collected via focus groups, reflective diaries and semi-structured interviews over the course of participants’ studies. Theoretical thematic analysis of data was underpinned by Bourdieu’s key conceptual tools of habitus, field and capital. The findings reveal the complex nature of participant’s engagement with HE, highlighting a number of key issues including the high-value status of linguistic capital, its relationship to understanding the rules governing practices within the learning environment, the processes via which students manage to adapt to or even resist the dominant culture of the educational field, and some of the barriers to finding a legitimate position within it.

This study illuminates student experiences in a powerful way, highlighting that failure to acknowledge the pervading culture inherent within individual HE institutions and to recognise the often unspoken demands that define legitimate presentation of knowledge and understanding is likely to impede efforts to diversify the graduating student body and the OT workforce.

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More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 4 May 2010
Venue - Dates: 15th World Congress of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists, Chile, 2010-05-04 - 2010-05-07

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 155793
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/155793
PURE UUID: d4d731fe-b25b-4a65-b8bf-86566b60cd56
ORCID for J. Watson: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-2756-2148
ORCID for M. Nind: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4070-7513

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 28 May 2010 15:47
Last modified: 06 Jun 2018 12:47

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Contributors

Author: J. Watson ORCID iD
Author: M. Nind ORCID iD
Author: A.M. Borthwick
Author: D. Humphris

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