«S u e Cl e g g J a cq u e li n e Steve nso n J o h n W ill ot t Acknowledgements This project has depended on the support of many people, to whom we ...»
Everything else has developed, but my actual ability to socialise with people my own age has shot backwards, because I am never able to do it anymore. It concerns my friends more than me... I would be up hours and hours before anyone else was, so I had a very different life and it seemed to me to be sort of seen as, not excluded, but like the different one if you know what I mean and at one point it was almost verging on sort of bullying, because they didn’t understand what I was doing, they didn’t understand why I wouldn’t want to be with them and they sort of took offence to that and tried to make it difficult for me. I wasn’t trying to make them feel offended, so of course they would say ‘do you want to come out?’ and I would say ‘no’, so perhaps that did have an impact on me I don’t know... for example a typical day at times, the odd extreme would be 8 until 4 at [volunteering], 4 until say 9 University work, so there was almost 12, 13 hour working day which doesn’t leave any spare time at all.
(Student 20, Male, 20, Asian British (Pakistani), Islam, family home, Law, sixth form college, 1st generation) The differential valuing and support for this sort of capital building activity is thus experienced as involving peer support and pressure as well as that from staff.
The respondent above has resisted these pressures, but the use of the term ‘bullying’ suggests that peer pressure can be intense and even painful.
220.127.116.11 Capital building and habitus The sections above demonstrate the complexities of capital building, and show the ways in which inherited advantages and dispositions predispose some students to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the field.
Differential valuing of activities within the field also mean that students have widely differing experiences as regards their abilities to engage in capital building. Some of these differences are local to courses, some relate to the highly individualised opportunities provided by individual staff. Others, however, are systematic. The general devaluing of caring, with the exception of those on caring courses, suggests that there remains a strongly gendered dimension in forms of capital valued. Those courses that do value caring are the most persistently feminised with regard to the students they recruit. Socio-economic advantage and disadvantage also appear resilient in students’ accounts with
7.2.3 Understanding participation in ECA through the lens of Wenger’s theory of communities of practice A community of practice (CoP) has three interlinked characteristics that forge the identity of those who participate within it: it has a shared domain of interest (with a commitment to the domain); members are involved in joint activities (sharing information and building relationships); and those within it are practitioners – rather than just having a shared interest (Wenger, 1998) with this practice giving members their sense of joint identity (Lave & Wenger, 1991).
Most of what has been described in previous research regarding participation in CoPs relates to participation in curricular activities. However our research found
1. Many students were deliberately using participation in ECA to move from
peripheral to full learners within two different communities of practice:
participation in ECA to support the development of a student identity and participation in ECA to support the development of an employee identity.
2. Participation in CoP resulted in the development of five clear learner identities across these two groups: i. the Career Climber; ii. the Employment Builder (employee identities); iii. the Embedded Student; iv.
the Pleasure Seeker (student identities) and v. the Giver (a combination of the two).
3. Some students, primarily due to caring responsibilities were unable to participate in ECA, which would facilitate their movement from the periphery of a CoP. This non-participation in ECA resulted in the development of an additional identity: vi. the Onlooker.
4. In addition, a further group were participating in ECA but for no other reason than to support themselves financially: vii. the Earners.
5. Depending on the role(s) each learner developed, there was significant variation in how students valorised ECA as facilitating their movement from the periphery of a CoP to becoming experts within it.
6. Many students found that their participation in an ECA CoP facilitated their participation into other CoPs.
The descriptions above represent a way of characterising different positions we found in the data; however, students might take on more than one identity at one time, or at different times.
18.104.22.168 The different communities of practice The community of practice of the workplace Since Lave and Wenger (1991) wrote their seminal work (looking at the learning of midwives in the Yucatan, Vai and Gola tailors, naval quartermasters, meat cutters, and a group of alcoholics anonymous) much of the subsequent literature has centred on the community of practice of the workplace, and how the acquisition and development of social capital and the sharing of knowledge can aid participation and so learning. We are extending this idea to students to
Many of the students in our study were involved in activity that would lead them from the periphery of the workplace CoP to the eventual centre and were
actively involved in ECA that could support this transition at a future date:
I’m getting fairly involved with the student newspaper at the moment, I have just sent off the national student magazine... so I am mainly involved in sort of writing and things that I really enjoy, it’s actually, I mean I have been writing since I was 7, I put my first book together...
Journalism is a ridiculously hard market to get into, there are hundreds of people who want to be journalists and not enough spaces for them... I mean I talked about this at high school when I did my careers interview and she said, ‘well basically what you can do, train to be a teacher and submit pieces to your local newspaper and see if you get published that way’, sort of sneak into it if you see what I mean.
(Student 16, Female, 19, White British, family home, English & History, sixth form college, not 1st generation) Those students involved in participation in ECA to become eventual experts in a workplace CoP were the ‘Career Climbers’ and the ‘Employment Builders’ – both actively developing employee identities. We recognise Career Climbers primarily as those students who were enrolled on courses with a clear link into future employment in specific industries. They were deliberately participating in ECA that would help them build their CVs and climb from their existing positions as students direct into employment. The Employment Builders comprised those students also involved in ECA to facilitate access to a future workplace CoP but in a yet-to-be-determined field of employment.
The student community of practice While the CoP literature is more developed in relation to the workplace, it has been used to characterise student participation in learning communities. We have chosen this approach as a useful heuristic in conceptualising some forms of student participation.
For some students the movement from the periphery to the centre was in relation to the ‘student community of practice’. In other words, they were deliberately setting out to become expert learners. There were two clear ways in which they were doing this – through the acquisition of knowledge and through
leading activities, including ECA, that would make them ‘experts’:
Like for instance... it is like, ‘right tell me something that has happened within one of your coaching sessions’, so you will say, and he will be like ‘right how did you deal with that?’ and ‘what was the outcome?’ and ‘what did your athlete say?’ and ‘what happened?’, and it is really like tearing it apart. But it is like creating this community of practice so my friend might have said this and I was like ‘oh well how did you go about doing that because that happened to me last week’... and it is like this big debate that goes off and that happens a lot in our seminars because it is small enough to be able
I was a Course Rep and I am also currently the Vice-President of the Student Law Society and I am also Mooting Clerk for it as well, but I am also the chair person – I chair all the meetings between the committee members. But no, I haven’t had any paid work I don’t think I have got time for and the commitment for paid work.
(Student 20, Male, 20, Asian British (Pakistani), Islam, family home, Law, sixth form college, 1st generation) The desire to become experts in the student CoP lead to the development of clear student identities: the Embedded Student and the Pleasure Seeker.
Finally, some students, through participation in ECA were developing identities as Givers (a combination of employee and student identities). This leaves a final cohort of students who, primarily due to carer responsibilities were unable to participate in forms of ECA (other than caring) and so were not able to develop any other form of identity. These we have called the Onlookers.
22.214.171.124 The development of learner identities The Career Climber The Career Climbers were a strong presence throughout the interviews. For them, their choice of ECA was specific, focused and linked specifically to developing the knowledge, skills and experience to be successful in a competitive labour market in a chosen field. They included Law students undertaking mooting or debating activities; Film School students working on paid or unpaid film projects for community organisations; Graphic Design students working on arts-based volunteering projects; and Sports Science
students involved in sporting activities with young people:
... at this moment in time I am looking for voluntary work in the Refugee Council because I have done some voluntary work before in Newcastle... it is something that I like because it has a connection with my course, a bit of what I want to do in the future, because I plan to do my Masters in Immigration... after I have finished the course in my Masters I want to do immigration and I want to work in my country.
(Student 44, Female, 23, Black/Black British (African), Christian, Spanish & International Relations, FE college, 1st generation) I am obviously being constantly being CRB checked, I am constantly having to do different things, I am always having to update things, like the child protection course lasts only five months or something ridiculous, so I am having to keep, it might not be a CV but I have to keep a very accurate log of what I have done, when I have done it, where I have done it, so I am very focused on it, but whether or not you would call it a CV, its more sort of an up-to-date list because you’re always getting coaches ringing up and saying when was the
These students were, in the main involved in ECA that were recognised and valued by the institution. This included activities put on by staff (such as curriculum-based work-based learning opportunities, mooting and debating activities and opportunities to gain coaching certificates outside of the curriculum), opportunities facilitated by staff (such as facilitating links with community organisations to develop paid or voluntary projects including film making, or graphic design projects), BUSA sporting activities, Students’ Union activities and university-sponsored volunteering opportunities.
These students came from families where participation in ECA was high and they had already participated in an extremely wide range of ECA at school and
in the community:
... my Mum, I mean she used to organise thing for us like, I have got two older brothers and a younger sister as well... my mum would organise things for us to do the whole day, because they had the same holidays as us. Which was great, but we would go off on there are like local archaeological digs and things like that for children and teenagers and we got sent off on those sort of things. Like reenactment days and that sort of stuff, so yes my parents were definitely sort of very, they wanted us to learn all the time and you know, but yes it was good.