Getting there: aspects of the experiences of students prior to entry into higher education
AbstractThis study set out to explore issues surrounding the extent to which growth and change in higher education has been accompanied by diversification of student characteristics and experiences prior to entry to higher education. Exploration of these issues developed further into a consideration of factors influencing entry to higher education. To facilitate exploration of student characteristics and experiences two research approaches were employed in the study: a questionnaire to a cohort of 252, first year students, attending three full time education courses in a higher education establishment (the quantitative element) eight focus groups of students drawn from school sixth forms and Access courses in a college of further education (the qualitative element) The results of the study demonstrate diversity of student characteristics and prior experiences. Consideration of educational experience, for example, shows that students enter higher education via a variety of routes such that the former recognition of 'traditional', 'vocational' and "Access' routes underestimates the diversity of student prior educational and other life experiences. A model of influences surrounding entry to higher education was developed from the literature and in testing this against the study results two interacting factors emerged as particularly significant. Social class, as a student characteristic, was found to interact with the development, via prior experiences in the home, of a positive perspective towards education. Results obtained from both the quantitative and qualitative elements of the study demonstrated the significance of parental knowledge of the education system and their perspective towards education on the educational progress of their offspring. Four categories of parental educational perspective were isolated: supportive and knowledgeable, supportive and lacking in knowledge, disinterested and negative. Social class and a positive educational perspective in interaction were found to influence the likelihood that a student would stay in the education system beyond school leaving and return to education in later life. A positive predisposition towards education was supported by high expectations of the higher education experience and its outcomes in encouraging applicants.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
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