Transition to university: managing constraints and successfully persisting with study on a pathway program

Morrison, George (2016) Transition to university: managing constraints and successfully persisting with study on a pathway program. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

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Pathway to university programs like USQ’s Tertiary Preparation Program (TPP) have a significant role to play in widening participation in higher education in Australia as they prepare students from targeted equity groups that have previously been disadvantaged in terms of access to university. While access to higher education has improved for some equity groups, a continuing concern for stakeholders is the perceived rate of attrition in pathway programs. Statistical measurements of attrition and retention may provide tools for evaluating program successes and failures, but they do little to inform policy makers about the student experience of study. The purpose of this study is to identify TPP students’ experience of constraints to successful persistence with study and how they manage to overcome them and achieve their learning goals. A qualitative dominant mixed methods research design was utilised to investigate the students’ experience of studying on the program. The main data was generated through analysis of student assignments completed at different points of program progression and semi-structured interviews upon completion. Findings are discussed utilising the conceptual framework of Bourdieu’s social reproduction theory to discuss constraints as forms of capital. The main socioeconomic constraints faced by TPP students relate to time spent in paid and unpaid work which leaves little time available for full time study. The way in which students utilise time available for study, however, reflect cultural constraints. It was found that unrealistic expectations and false beliefs about the nature of tertiary study prior to enrolment compound constraints that reflect lack of familiarity with academic practices and forms of literacy dominant at university. The process of managing constraints and successfully persisting with study is best conceptualised as development of a personal learning ecology (PLE). Development of a PLE is predicated on students’ capacity to successfully manage existing social relationships and develop new ones. Resources and relationships exist in different contexts and each context requires a different form of communicative competence. Pedagogy in pathway programs must facilitate the building of students’ personal capacity by scaffolding activities and instruction that specifically target the communication and interpersonal skills required to build a personal learning ecology.

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Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Open Access College (1 Jul 2013 - 7 Jun 2020)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Open Access College (1 Jul 2013 - 7 Jun 2020)
Supervisors: Lawrence, Professor Jill; Brodie, Professor Lyn
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2016 02:51
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2017 05:00
Uncontrolled Keywords: university study; tertiary; TPP; University of Southern Queensland; higher education; pathway programs; student experience; personal learning ecology; communication
Fields of Research (2008): 16 Studies in Human Society > 1608 Sociology > 160809 Sociology of Education
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130202 Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development
13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130101 Continuing and Community Education
Fields of Research (2020): 39 EDUCATION > 3902 Education policy, sociology and philosophy > 390203 Sociology of education
39 EDUCATION > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy > 390102 Curriculum and pedagogy theory and development
39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390301 Continuing and community education

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