SO, what topics do I need to think about and focus down on in relation to the research part of the assignment? My initial thought is to research into students' perceptions of the effectiveness of their vocational qualification in supporting their academic transition to HE.
Let's analyse this question...
Students' perceptions of the effectiveness of their vocational qualification in supporting their academic transition to HE
What does this question say?Students: I may need to make this more detailed: First year HE students? Will they have been at university long enough to make a judgement? Maybe second year?
Perceptions: Using a word like this will suggest that it is a qualitative project, using qualitative techniques of some form to get an understanding of the students' views. Now, how this relates to the SI view of the interview as trying to reach consensus. Am I going in with preconceived ideas? Maybe think more about that later.
Effectiveness: Effective in what way? How can the effectiveness be measured - by me, by the student? Do the students have an understanding of what I mean? Need to clarify.
Vocational qualification: Do I ask about a specific qualification? e.g. BTEC? Will this request lead me to very specific courses where vocational qualifications are a more 'normal' route into HE? Does my asking this question suggest to the respondent that I consider their qualification to be an issue, that they are somehow at a disadvantage that needs exploring?
Supporting: how do I interpret a qualification 'supporting' academic transition? How might students interpret it? What are the qualifications supposed to provide the student with, to prepare them for HE? Is it just a vocational understanding of the subject itself, or is a vocational qualification such as the BTEC designed to provide the student with academic 'skills' which can be transferred to HE? Hmmm... a lot of questions in the use of this word.
Academic transition: May need to clarify this term both for myself and the students. Presumably (I'll need to think some more about this myself...) I mean generic skills, such as those we support students with in study skills. It would be important to stress this throughout any interviews, otherwise I'll get a lot of information which is academic subject-specific, which may lead to lack of cohesion and generalisability (however limited in qualitative research) amongst the results.
In HE: Well, at least this bit is relatively straightforward.
Right. With those thoughts in mind, how can I clarify my question?
First year students' perceptions of the effectiveness of their vocational FE qualification in developing academic study skills which support their transition from FE to HE.
I'll leave this to settle in my mind for a while and return to it at a slightly later date. In the mean time, at least, I've got something to direct my reading.