Sunday, 13 September 2015

"Just" an Ed.D.

I attended a session at the annual staff conference last week, on transition from school/FE to higher education. A couple of colleagues had been awarded £10,000 to investigate students' views of transition, and had used the money to video the students talking freely in answer to three questions on transitioning to HE.

The answers were interesting, not only because of the content and its implications to our practice as study skills advisers, but also in the language they used. The researcher drew attention to one student (not in the clips we were shown) who said that he'd "just" done a BTEC before coming to university.

So much to unpack in the one word - "just".
Does he feel that his qualification, which would have taken two years, is inferior to other options? If so, why? Are his feelings mirroring the media view of 'dumbed down' vocational qualifications - a legacy of Mr Gove's desire to denigrate these qualifications and raise 'A' levels onto a dais (albeit a dais he was happy to throw coconuts at)? Does he feel his academic background lacks in something that other students may have experienced? If so, what? Why this feeling? So many questions.

This would be an interesting topic to study in itself - perception of vocational qualifications on entry to HE. Having just *very* quickly searched on the topic, I came across this quantitative study. It's really interesting - young people are more likely to denigrate vocational quals than their parents, or anyone else. I suppose the parents have a vested interest in thinking that their child is doing a "worthwhile" qualification.

Why do I bring this subject up, apart from it being a really interesting question in itself? Well, I suppose I feel a little like that young man. Not so much with my entry qualifications (though, science .......). But, how is the EdD viewed? I have to explain to lots of people (e.g. my father) what an EdD is. He knows what a PhD is. He knows (in his mind, at least) that this is a pinnacle of academic endeavour, something he could never have imagined his daughter could have aimed at. But an EdD? What's that? Is this an opinion echoed by academics? Some literature seems to suggest a lack of parity of esteem between the two. If I were writing an essay, I'd put a few references in, but I'll just stick this in for now

What do I feel? I'm ambivalent. Academically, the two are assessed at the same level. However, one is of greater practicable use within the professional environment. But still, a little bit of me thinks like the BTEC student - "just" an EdD.

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