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Conceptions of widening participation and non-traditional students in higher education

Connor, Colleen 2008. Conceptions of widening participation and non-traditional students in higher education. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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Abstract

Research into widening participation has considered both the barriers to participation and the experiences of 'non-traditional' students in higher education. However, less attention has been given to the meaning of widening participation and 'non- traditional' students for those working within higher education settings. This study explored the different conceptions of non-traditional students held by staff in a new university through an examination of responses to widening participation policy and the representation and management of diversity in the student population. The study employed a case study strategy which utilised an ethnographic method, with documents, meetings, discussions and a series of interviews being the principal sources of information. It was informed by a critical perspective that drew upon theoretical conceptions regarding the inclusion of minority groups. Key findings related to the divergent perspectives and varying meanings attached to the term 'non-traditional student' and the influence of the 'business case' in the local interpretation of widening participation policy. Different understandings of the need to develop the academic skills of non-traditional students and confusions around dealing with dyslexia were raised. Evidence was also found of contradictory pressures impacting on lecturers' approaches to diversity and attitude to support. Student empowerment was largely found to be based on ideas of economic improvement although there were some examples of lecturers taking what could be viewed as empowering approaches in their teaching practice. Recommendations were made regarding the need for greater specificity when defining students and their support needs. Consideration was also given to the training and staff development required for lecturers to promote inclusivity and fully recognize the positive potential of diversity in the student population.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
ISBN: 9781303185816
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2018 00:09
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/55807

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