Like spinning a coin? student perceptions of the relevance of formal transnational study to their workplace and career aspirations

Cleary, Kaye (2007) Like spinning a coin? student perceptions of the relevance of formal transnational study to their workplace and career aspirations. In: 4th Centre for Research in Lifelong Learning 4th International Conference, 22 - 24 June 2007, Stirling, Scotland.


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This paper reports on part of a longitudinal study of a Faculty of Education’s online masters program. A multi-phased evaluation based upon Stufflebeam’s CIPP model (Context, Input, Process and Product) is underway. The first phase, completed in 2004, revealed pockets of active lifelong learners who highly valued the learning communities/alliances developed during the course of their candidature (Reushle & Cleary 2004). Student comments indicated that these communities were not merely class-based learning communities, but as connections were formed and strengthened through re-acquaintance in subsequent classes, the ‘community’ developed richer characteristics associated with communities of practice. On the whole, students were not content to absorb knowledge, learning to become competent practitioners. Instead many were driven by a desire to be proponents of change in their local settings, forging directions, challenging the status quo inscribing meaning from reflecting on the richness of ideas fed into their transnational classes paralleled by reflections on their own contexts. We were seeing indications of students straddling two communities, feeding insights from one into the other.

Fostering these communities and the study-work linkages were dual aims in the 2005 re-design of the Faculty’s online programs. A belief that learning is situated in personal, social and organisational contexts underpinned the structure of the program and orientation of courses. A program model drawing upon communities of practice (Yamagata-Lynch, 2001), lifelong learning (Kerka 2000), workplace learning (Billett 2002) and Terry Mayes’ Learning Cycle (Mayes, 2002) was developed. One aspect of the 2006 phase two evaluation seeks to establish the relevance of the new program to the learners’ workplace and their broader career aspirations through an interpretative, participant-orientated study. A survey available to all enrolled online students and those who have graduated or dropped their study in the past year sets the broad parameters for subsequent focus groups and interviews.

This paper investigates and illuminates the manner in which online postgraduate students [co]construct meaning in their transnational course environments and in their workplaces. Students skillfully traverse their personal continuums between their formal and informal learning contexts through a bi-directional flow of engagement (Glastra, Hake & Schedler, 2004) where the fluidity of discourse in the formal setting at one end of the continuum is enriched, transformed and applied in the various workplaces. By applying the lens of lifelong and lifewide learning (Grace 2004, Illeris 2003) the program team aims to gain a better understanding of how students mesh the formal educational requirements of masters study with their non-formal workplace learning. Interdependencies and relatedness between the students’ practice and participation in these communities are examined under the lens of Bourdieu’s concept of habitus and Wenger‘s communities of practice (Wenger, 2000), to illuminate students’ movement across these worlds.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Speech)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2008 00:22
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2013 22:56
Uncontrolled Keywords: lifelong learning, career aspirations, online education, student perspectives
Fields of Research (2008): 16 Studies in Human Society > 1608 Sociology > 160809 Sociology of Education
13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130309 Learning Sciences
Fields of Research (2020): 39 EDUCATION > 3902 Education policy, sociology and philosophy > 390203 Sociology of education
39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390303 Higher education
39 EDUCATION > 3904 Specialist studies in education > 390409 Learning sciences

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