Just who is educating Rita? The learning careers of Access HE tutors

Conference paper


Hudson, A. 2016. Just who is educating Rita? The learning careers of Access HE tutors. British Educational Research Association (BERA) Annual Conference 2016. University of Leeds, UK 13 - 15 Sep 2016
AuthorsHudson, A.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

Introduction
This paper presents the initial findings of a small scale qualitative study that aims to explore the learning careers of tutors, based in Further Education (FE) who teach on the Access HE Diploma which prepares adult learners for entry to Higher Education (HE). In 2013/14 some 44,685 learners enrolled on the Access HE Diploma and 23,085 learners with a Diploma entered HE in England and Wales (QAA, 2015). Whilst there is a well-documented literature on the Access HE Diploma, which has contributed to widening participation by providing an alternative route into HE, (Diamond, 1999; and Preece et al, 1998), very little is known about those who teach and support the so-called “second chance” access HE learners (Busher et al , 2015). Research interest in the FE workforce has gradually increased over the last ten years, particularly around discourses of professionalism (Robson and Bailey, 2009), professional standards (Tummons, 2014) and continuing professional development (Husband, 2015). Recent research revealed that Access HE tutors often felt marginalised within their institution: “ …feeling betwixt and between in terms of their identity, neither part of the “A” level team, nor part of vocational education, nor part of the HE part of the college where one existed.” (Busher et al, 2015:135).

Methodology

Adopting a social constructivist perspective we use the life-grid and qualitative interviews to co-construct tutors’ learning careers. We are particularly interested in the construction of their academic identity and how this shapes their practice, as well as exploring their motivation for teaching on Access HE courses and commitment to widening access. To interpret the rich profusion of academic identity, the impact of policy shifts on their dispositions and their often marginalised position, we draw on Bourdieu’s theoretical concepts of habitus and field as useful conceptual tools. At a very practical level the research aims to identify tutors’ support and training needs; exploring the extent to which they engage in scholarly activity; undertake continuing professional development; and the extent to which they are supported by their employer.

Initial findings

The narratives of the twelve tutors, all of whom are based in FE colleges in London, offers an insight into how their identity has been constructed and reconstructed in response to the changing educational landscape: professionalization, re-professionalization and performativity. For some tutors, meeting management expectations and the targets of an audit culture impacted on their professionalism and the quality of teaching and learning.

Year2016
ConferenceBritish Educational Research Association (BERA) Annual Conference 2016
Publication process dates
CompletedSep 2016
Deposited20 Mar 2020
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https://repository.uel.ac.uk/item/87w47

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