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Good foundations : an analysis of the configurations of factors affecting success in non-traditional students on a foundation programme

In the last decade, there has been a strong focus on educational policies to improve social mobility with universities required to demonstrate through their Fair Access Agreements what action they are taking with regard to making Higher Education available to underrepresented groups. The literature review presented here used the ideas of Bourdieu to examine which groups are underrepresented in Higher Education and to explore to what extent this underrepresentation may be attributed to poor initial education, recruitment bias on the part of institutions or an alienation on behalf of the learner with the dominant culture found in Higher Education. Some of the different approaches to widening participation were considered, focusing on the role of Foundation Programmes in order to site the programme analysed in this thesis in the range of widening participation activity generally and the national Foundation Programme sector specifically. The literature on graduateness and academic thinking skills was explored as a way of articulating a desirable outcome for degree preparation in a research intensive university. This then led to an examination of the issues around teaching and learning for non-traditional students. The research described in this thesis was conducted on the factors affecting successful outcomes for students studying on the Foundation Programme at Durham University using both available audit-style demographic and academic outcome data for seven cohorts of Foundation students and a more in-depth analysis of one cohort. The data were analysed using the relatively novel approach of Qualitative Comparative analysis as this case-led approach retains the nuances within the data and allows for the variety of different combinations of factors within individual students. The results show that there were a range of combinations of factors leading to a successful outcome for students, that previous qualifications were not necessary for success, but that attitudinal factors, as measured using a Conscientiousness Index, were important. A link was established between an ability to use concepts of evidence, a high average score on the Foundation Programme and achievement of a good honours degree. The implications of the results were then considered in respect of taking a deficit approach to remedy gaps in initial education, aspects of recruitment policy for non-traditional students and managing diversity of learner identity.
Date January 2015
CreatorsMarshall, Catherine Ann
PublisherDurham University
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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