Wintrup, Julie, James, Elizabeth, Humphris, Debra and Bryson, Colin
Emotional work: students realising, negotiating and overcoming barriers
Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, 4, (2), . (doi:10.1108/17581181211273156).
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- Author's Original
Purpose – The purpose of the research is to explore Foundation degree students’ experience of an innovative curriculum, designed to enable pathway choices and widen access to Honour's degree programmes in a wide range of health professions and Social Work.
Design/methodology/approach – A longitudinal, cohort design followed three years’ of entrants through their degree and in some cases beyond. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were carried out by a dedicated researcher at approximately yearly intervals.
Findings – Social networks and friendship groups emerged as pivotal to participants’ well-being and persistence. Institutional barriers included communication problems and a lack of information about timetables and other practical issues. Over time participants came to assert their needs and confront problems, individually and collectively, describing a more questioning and assertive approach to their study and work lives.
Research limitations/implications – The experiences over time of students who leave university are needed to explore the role of social group membership and the effect of practical problems. A limitation of the study is that their views are not captured.
Practical implications – The importance of naturally-occurring social groups in creating persistence at university has implications for curriculum design and resources (time/space) to support this activity.
Social implications – Widening access to HE brings with it new responsibilities to support students over time as transitions occur through programmes of study and during vacation periods.
Originality/value – Flexible approaches to education are generally seen to benefit mature students but can be stressful and require good and timely information.
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