Strange new world: early educational experiences of non-traditional occupational therapy students

Watson, J., Borthwick, A., Nind, M. and Humphris, D. (2008) Strange new world: early educational experiences of non-traditional occupational therapy students At College of Occupational Therapists 32nd Annual Conference. 10 - 13 Jun 2008.


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The profile of occupational therapy (OT) students is changing with 65% classified as ‘mature’ on entry (College of Occupational Therapists (COT) 2003) and an increasing number commencing with ‘non-traditional’ academic backgrounds (NTAB). The skills, prior experiences and expectations of NTAB students may generate particular challenges to successful transition into higher education (HE) (Leathwood and O’Connell 2003) and non-completion rates suggests they are more likely than school-leavers to withdraw from their studies (National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education (NCIHE) 1997).

Successful expansion and diversification of the OT workforce necessitates encouraging participation by a broad range of students and the provision of mechanisms that support and facilitate them to completion. While graduating NTAB OT students are as academically successful as school-leavers (Howard and Jerosch-Herold 2000; Shanahan 2004), there is limited evidence available regarding how they actually negotiate the academic demands of their programmes or considering the experiences of those who withdraw.

This poster considers the educational experiences of NTAB OT students during their first year of study on a full-time undergraduate programme and represents one aspect of the initial phase of an ongoing longitudinal exploratory case study. Following ethical approval data was collected from fourteen volunteer participants via focus group, reflective diaries and individual semi-structured interviews. Thematic analysis of participant-verified data revealed the complex nature of participants’ engagement with HE, the degree to which it was inevitably entwined with development and transformation of their identities, and the challenges associated with learning the rules of engagement in the unfamiliar culture of HE.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Additional Information: The information outlined in this presentation was further developed an subsequently published as:Watson J; Nind M; Humphris D; Borthwick A (2009) Strange new world: Applying a Bourdieuian lens to understanding early student experiences in higher education. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 30(6), 665-681.
Venue - Dates: College of Occupational Therapists 32nd Annual Conference, 2008-06-10 - 2008-06-13
Keywords: widening participation, non-traditional academic backgrounds, transition, culture of higher education, occupational therapy education
ePrint ID: 55756
Date :
Date Event
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2008
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2017 17:42
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