Ella transitions to postgraduate study

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Ella transitions to postgraduate study

  1. 1. Dr Ela Beaumont Working as a group Taught part time professional postgraduates: What do we know?
  2. 2. The premise <ul><li>The transition to postgraduate study whilst maintaining a professional identity has not been widely studied to date (O'Donnell 2009)   </li></ul>
  3. 3. Background <ul><li>Universities and university staff are strongly influenced by disciplinary and organisational values of established orthodoxy (Goles and Hirschheim 2000), that relate to their understanding of the nature of university activities </li></ul><ul><li>Equally, mature postgraduate students come to university with their own ontological and epistemological assumptions, derived from their own particular set of prior professional experiences </li></ul>
  4. 4. These two perspectives may not fit together well Professional taught postgraduate student Taught course University
  5. 5. This study examines the cultural and affective domains in the contract between mid-career students and  the university
  6. 6. Border issues <ul><li>The gap between the personal and the professional </li></ul><ul><li>(Winter et al 1999) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Literature on taught postgraduates <ul><li>Supervisory relationship (Anderson et al 2006, 2008) </li></ul><ul><li>Authentic learning in consumer, market-led HE (Waghid 2006, Hesketh and Knight 1999) </li></ul><ul><li>International student experience (Turner 2006, McClure 2007) </li></ul><ul><li>Service quality of vocational courses (McEwan et al 2005, Angell et al 2008) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Four dimensions <ul><li>What cultural and learning assumptions do professional postgraduates bring with them? </li></ul><ul><li>What local academic conventions exist in the university in relation to the delivery of professional postgraduate courses? </li></ul><ul><li>Where might the gaps in mutual understanding between postgraduate students, their tutors, and the institution exist? </li></ul><ul><li>Might 'learning conversations' help to prevent misunderstandings, and if so, how and where could they occur between students and staff? </li></ul>
  9. 9. What cultural and learning assumptions do professional postgraduates bring with them? <ul><li>When I did my first degree which was years ago you really were taught, you know, real hands on -you will go and read this book, you will put this in your assignment you will do this and that (student) </li></ul><ul><li>Another thing that's more difficult for the mature students is they are not so used to the open exchange of information so they are very guarded. We are all learning here…I say well this isn't a master apprentice thing here at all, I'm learning… I've not got all the answers we are finding out all the time (staff) </li></ul>
  10. 10. What local academic conventions exist in the university in relation to the delivery of professional postgraduate courses? <ul><li>Suddenly we've got 65 and I said hang on, we're set up for 6 here and suddenly we have 65. We're not set up in the way that we are for the undergraduates for everything to do with induction (staff) </li></ul><ul><li>They need to know what the course entails, we need to ensure that the pre-course information is detailed enough and they get a clear overview of what is going to happen (staff) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Where might the gaps in mutual understanding between postgraduate students, tutors and the institution exist? <ul><li>Could it be possible to have specific lectures that showed how a dissertation or an assignment, how you can make it academic? (student) </li></ul><ul><li>The study skills session wasn’t geared for post grads it was still really geared for undergrads (student) </li></ul><ul><li>I am back to studying after a long time; travelling, university culture, to-ing and fro-ing is all challenging. You are left to do things. It’s difficult to get your head round the simplest things, for example the library (student) </li></ul><ul><li>I didn't want to say anything ‘cos I felt as an MA student you should be able to work totally independently and you feel as though you can't ask for help.(student) </li></ul>
  12. 12. Might 'learning conversations' help to prevent misunderstandings, and if so, how and where could they occur between students and staff? <ul><li>A learning conversation- </li></ul><ul><li>Focuses on the dialogic or conversational aspect of teaching, and emphasises co-operation, collaboration and participation based on an exchange of equally valid voices to create mutual understanding </li></ul>
  13. 13. Checking for understanding in a heterogeneous group <ul><li>I see myself as a worker on a training course when I’m here I don’t feel like a student (student) </li></ul><ul><li>It’s more like training, especially because the course is not continuous. We come for a week at a time and then back at work (student) </li></ul><ul><li>It gives you some freedom that you don’t have in your own professional life and it provides freedom for not knowing which is quite nice (student) </li></ul>
  14. 14. One to one <ul><li>We don't have a personal tutor system for postgraduates, Personal contact is important, getting to know the students. I'd like to know the student's backgrounds, what students have studied before, the profile of the group and where the potential problems might be. Ideally there would be time to be more aware of the potential diversity of the group, and the personal tutor would intervene very early on (staff) </li></ul>
  15. 15. Time to think, time to talk <ul><li>It would have been quite nice to have say half an hour a week where you just sat and chatted and had that actually timetabled for everybody (student) </li></ul>
  16. 16. Benefits of having ‘difficult conversations’ (Stone et al 2000) <ul><li>defining and clarifying the tasks </li></ul><ul><li>jointly enlisting help and support </li></ul><ul><li>preventing arguments about who is right </li></ul><ul><li>creating space to explore each other’s point of view from both a personal and institutional perspective </li></ul>
  17. 17. References Chivers, G. (2007) Professional competence enhancement via postgraduate post-experience learning and development Journal of European Industrial Training vol 31 no 8 Christie, H., Munro. and Wagner, F. (2005) Day Students in Higher Education: Widening Access Students and Successful Transition to University Life International Studies in Sociology of Education 15 (1) McEwan, L., Duck, R., Haigh M., Smith, S., Wolfenden, L. and Kelly, K. (2005) Evaluating the 'postgraduateness' of vocational taught Masters environmental courses: student perspectives Planet no 14 O'Donnell, V., Tobbell, J., Lawthom, R. and Zammit, M. (2009) Transition to postgraduate study: Practice, participation and the widening participation agenda Active Learning in Higher Education vol 10 (1)

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