Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Reflections on learning: widening capability and the student experience

This paper is obliquely linked to my interests but does have some useful information and links. It discusses some theories which may be of relevance in my analysis stages. The social context at the beginning is also useful to help me understand the greater picture. I was drawn in by the title, with 'widening capability' - I initially believed this was to do with widening participation. The link is certainly there, exploring methods of assessment which acknowledge the life experiences of those students from a non-traditional background, but it is more to do with developing skills through this acknowledgement.

Summary: Useful background, some further reading to explore.

Garratt, D. (2011). Reflections on learning:  widening capability and the student experience. Cambridge Journal of Education, 41(2), 211-225.

Social Context

There has been rapid and unprecedented expansion of HE in the UK (David, 2010) with an increase in students from non-traditional backgrounds entering HE. Garratt draws attention to the theme of increasing diversity and looks at the implications for learning and teaching, to produce a more socially just pedagogy.

Crozier et al. (2008) suggest that the discourse of WP only involves the 'desire to participate' rather than affecting change in the 'ability to participate' once the students have entered HE. Walker (2008) invokes the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (2007) who believe that within the UK, HE is not fully promoting equality.

Garratt's research question is: "How can HE programmes widen 'capability' by encouraging student reflection on learning and personal knowledge and further recognise the outcomes in order to develop a more inclusive pedagogy, integrating formal and informal learning?"

Methodology and data sources

Garratt identifies the participants, states that it is a qualitative account, with vignettes taken from student learning logs. The study is a post-hoc rationalisation (Hockings et al, 2010). Garratt goes over the ethics process and suggests that the study was done as it was for heuristic reasons. For my own info: heuristic: method not guaranteed to be optimal but sufficient for the immediate goals. Garratt used a hermeneutic approach, moving between theory and data, to find "warrantable understandings" (Ivanic et al., 2007) - illuminating and capable of inference, rather than seeking 'truth'.

Learning log - discussion of the student assessment

Theoretical framework

Sen (1992, 1999) discusses notions of equality in learning, closely linked with the concept of 'capabilities'. Capabilities are the opportunities given to individuals to enable them to realise their potential.

The space between an individual's 'internal capabilities' (Nussbaum, 2000) and 'functionings' (realisation of measurable outcomes) is mediated by the external environment. Bourdieu's  concepts of 'habitus' and 'cultural capital' help demonstrate how students have varying levels of accessibility to particular forms of high status knowledge, based on prior learning experiences and dispositions (Crozier et al, 2010). Crozier et al (2010) suggest that there is a disjunction between the habitus of students from non-traditional backgrounds and the unfamiliar field of experience at university.

Garratt uses Critical Race Theory to analyse the vignettes, using rich data to explore the 'warrantable understandings' drawn from the work.

Widening capability in student experience

Students telling their own stories in accordance with freedoms they have reason to value, the learning task provided opportunity to widen 'capability' and allow students to participate more confidently in their learning.

Hockings et al (2010) "students value teaching that recognises their individual academic and social identities and that addresses their particular learning needs".

Bates (2007): productive pedagogies that seek to develop a capability approach and further the course of social justice in education often usefully possess the following characteristics:...... Intellectual quality - development of higher order thinking.....

Further reading:

Bates (2007) Developing capabilities and the management of trust. In Walker & Unterhalter (eds) Amartya Sen's capability approach and social justice in education.

Crozier, Reay, Clayton, Colliander, Grinstead (2008) Different strokes for different folks: diverse students in diverse institutions - experiences of higher education

Crozier, Reay, & Clayton (2010) The socio-cultural and learning experiences of working-class students in higher education. In David (below).

David M. (Ed.) (2010) Improving learning by widening participation in higher education

Hockings, Cooke & Bowl (2010) Learning and teaching in two universities within the context of increasing student diversity: Complexity, contradictions and challenges. In David's book above

Ivanic, Edwards, Satchwell and Smith (2007).  Possibilities for pedagogy in further education: harnessing the abundance of literacy.

Nussbaum (2000) Women and human development: the capabilities approach

Sen (1992) Inequality re-examined

Sen (1999) Development as freedom

Walker (2008) Widening participation, widening capability

No comments:

Post a Comment