Second chance learning and the contexts of teaching: a study of the learning experiences of further education students with few qualifications

Coalter, Vicki (2008) Second chance learning and the contexts of teaching: a study of the learning experiences of further education students with few qualifications. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis examines the learning experience of a group of students in a further education college. This group, mainly adult returners, (there was a small cohort of school leavers) with few academic qualifications, succeeded in gaining Higher National awards and some went on to complete a degree. Students from 1995-2002 on one course in a college of further education were surveyed and interviewed. Findings from 95 questionnaires and 60 interviews on what factors they considered important to their success, how they learned best, and what elements of the learning experience were important to them, were all used to examine the learning of this group of students, both with Highers and without Highers, adult returners and school leavers, with a view to designing a teaching model for both sets of students. The initial hypothesis that those without Higher qualifications required something radically different from those with Highers, was disproved. Three case studies were used to give a more chronological and holistic picture of the student experience. The study shows that discussion, group communal learning and the trust and reciprocity exhibited within the dynamics of this particular FE classroom contributed to the efficacy of the learning experiences. Concepts of learner identity, discourse, student and teacher identities and pedagogical traditions were explored in the light of the data. Social capital was used as a heuristic device to examine the mechanics of classroom activity, the bonding of the group and how the small world of an FE classroom related to the larger networks of the workplace, the community and higher education. The final outcome, the model, was presented as a broad set of principles based on the students’ comments, the teacher/researcher’s experience and education theories. It was to be “learning focused” rather than “training focused” (Eraut et al. 2000: 240). Relationships between staff and students, students and students, modes of thinking linked to critical discourse and collaborative activity were the key factors in their successful achievement. The workplace context and the use of the practical setting were seen as important in making the learning link to “real life” but were not seen as the pivotal force. This combination of social and cognitive forces was translated into a model. The principles contained in the model were an expression of the way the students changed in their thinking, and in themselves, and what classroom dynamics brought these changes about.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: adult returners,few qualifications,further education, under-represented,learning processes,learner identity,discourse,learning communities,deeper learning, principles for learning and teaching
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: McGonigal, Prof J.
Date of Award: 2008
Depositing User: Ms. Vicki Coalter
Unique ID: glathesis:2008-122
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2008
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:15

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