Saturday, 19 December 2015

Research on the transition from vocational education and training to higher education

Dunbar-Goddet, H. & Ertl, H. (2007). Research on the transition from vocational education and training to higher education. Degrees of Success Working Paper 1.

This paper discusses the method used in the previous paper I looked at. It has some useful information to consider, relating to questions. It also makes me realise that everything seems to have been done before. After all, this paper is 8 years old.

Context: The current debate on WP in HE in relation to VET needs to consider two issues:
1. The increase in participation in post-compulsory education;
2. Issues of parity of VQs and 'academic' qualifications (i.e. A levels).

Despite the expansion in the HE sector, the greatest levels of growth are seen in students from the traditional source, that is middle class backgrounds who have entered HE with traditional A level qualifications. A substantial increase in VQs in secondary education has not opened the doors to an equality of access to HE. There is tracking of VET students to less prestigious HEIs.

Government policy under New Labour was to improve the perceived academic value of VQs. The authors found a gap in the knowledge about transition from level three VQs to HE and whether increasing participation in VET has led to widened participation in HE.

Project overview: large scale data analysis and some more in depth interviews, both of students and tutors.

Research design: A variety of questions, including "To what extent are students in VQs prepared fro studies in HE?" "What mechanisms are in place to remedy any lack of preparation?"

Since the 1970s arrange of questionnaires have been used to measure how students approach study in HE (Richardson, 2000). See: Approaches to Studying Inventory, Learning and Studying Questionnaire. See also Ertl, Hayward et al., 2007: The student learning experience in higher education literature review report for the HEA

See also: Christie et al. (2006) From college to university: Looking backwards, looking forwards.

The research had not only a question on preparedness for HE but also on unpreparedness. I would also need to consider asking questions about parental education and whether or not they were first generation HE. Other questions could cover the main challenges they find in academic skills, and how they overcome them., and what their expectations were about academic study at HE and how they thought it would differ from FE. The links above can help me formulate my questions. See p. 28 of article for the questions they used.

They start off with gentle questions such as "Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, for example can you describe the qualifications you obtained before coming into higher education?", "What subject did you study?", "Before you came to university, how well did you think your qualification prepared you for further study?" "Now you've been at university for a while, how well do you now think your vocational qualification prepared you for study at university?"

I need to think around these questions, and then think about what questions I can ask that will help me to answer *my* specific research question. It will be important to make sure we both understand what we mean by academic skills as this is what I'm interested in, rather than general differences between college and HE.

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