Exploring transformative journeys through a higher education programme in a further education college
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AbstractThis article describes a research project designed to understand the experiences of students undertaking higher education in a further education setting in the UK. Since the 1960s, there has been a sustained policy commitment in the UK to widen participation in education to social groups previously under-represented (Thompson, 2000; Burke, 2012), leading in part to the current government mantra that one should be either earning or learning (Burke, 2012). The consequence is a discourse in which it is argued that higher education has been dumbed down to include ‘non-traditional students’ frequently ill-prepared for academic challenges (Haggis, 2006). This research explored an alternative discourse, proposing that education should be a catalyst for significant social, emotional, and intellectual growth, culminating in a transformative experience (Mezirow, 1978a, 1991; Cranton, 2006). Twelve non-traditional graduates from a full-time BA programme at a Scottish College of Further and Higher Education were interviewed to determine if graduates experienced significant social, emotional, and intellectual growth as a result of participation; what teaching and learning settings make this possible; can it be proposed that graduates can be transformed by the experience of higher education in further education (hereafter HE in FE)? The findings of the research indicate that the participants all experienced some significant shift in attributes such as confidence, independence and willingness to try new things. How they experience, conceptualise and participate in their social worlds has become more discriminating. We conclude by 2 | P a g e proposing that HE in FE can have the potential to provide transformative experiences for non-traditional students. The implications of this study lie as much in the nature of the transformative learning experience as in the structures in which education is provided. Additionally, it is proposed that transformative teaching and learning theory may be as significant now as it ever was in understanding the changes which learners experience in higher education study.
CitationExploring transformative journeys through a higher education programme in a further education college 2018 Education + Training
JournalEducation + Training
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