How commencement of part-time study impacts on the lifeworld of mature students

SPURIN, Martin (2012). How commencement of part-time study impacts on the lifeworld of mature students. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Abstract

Background and aim: The introduction of higher fees within HE may well impact on part-time provision from 2012. Potentially fewer students applying for courses may mean that university income will become reliant on students completing courses and so retention will assume greater significance. At the university at the centre of this research 62% of all withdrawals on part-time foundation degrees occur within the first six weeks. This study explored how nine part-time mature students experienced entry into HE to develop knowledge and understanding of the range and nature of that experience, and the reasons why withdrawal may occur. Design: Using lifeworld the study captured the lived experience of nine students. The participants were interviewed after they had completed six weeks of their various courses and then again six weeks into their second semester. Results: The lived experience of these students evidences the complexity and individuality of returning to education. For some of the students, entering into study brought the present, past and future intensely into focus. Some questioned their own presence in HE while managing feelings of anxiety and inferiority. Established individual lifeworlds were challenged as integration into the social and academic communities of the university were negotiated. Enabling strategies included peer support within the classroom and securing confirmation that they were working at the correct academic level. Conclusion: This study shows that the lifeworld experience of these beginning students is rich and diverse and cannot be encapsulated within a collective account of the student experience. For university engagement with students to be meaningful the findings of this study suggest that it needs to take account of the range of mature students’ experiences including expectations, approaches to study, motivation, their past and aspirations, to develop courses that will retain students. The accounts of these students indicate that if appropriate support is given during the transitional period to enable feelings of acceptance within the social and academic environment then this can make a major contribution to retention.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Helen Garner
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2014 16:05
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2015 13:44
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/8502

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