«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 ...»
(Student 12, Female, White British, family home, Biomedical Science, FE college, 1st generation) The Higher Education Academy 73 The Earner The final group, the Earners were working, but they failed to see that the work they were doing had any other value other than paying a wage. They were a
small but significant group:
I don’t necessarily see the fact that I have been in paid work outside of the teaching kind of sporting area will affect me too positively. I can’t see it having a negative effect, I think it would be like neutral, it is just one of them things that I did... but I have like the last year I have become more focused on how things I do will affect my career like before I just did them because it was a job I had and it saved me looking for another one... and I was happy doing it so that was it.
(Student 3, Female, 21, White British, PE & Sport & Exercise Science, FE college, 1st generation) This group may have had parents who had attended higher education, but they were those who appear to have found their degree of little use compared to the benefit to be gained from working in full-time employment and working their way
up from the bottom:
[Talking about her sister]... So dad always says ‘why did I pay all that money, what was the point you could have come out of your Alevels and just gone into a job like that and worked your way up to where you are’. I suppose it’s fast-tracked her in a way to where she is in that like company but...
(Student 11, Female, 19, White British, Christian, English Literature, sixth form college, not 1st generation) Yorke and Knight (2006) argue that although HEIs are not able to reach directly into students’ ECA, they can, through co-curricular activities such as career development, help students to recognise the significance of those activities and represent to best effect achievements that can be supported with evidence from ECA. Earners were, in the main, not being given support by the institution to recognise the value of their participation in paid employment to their future employability. This was particularly true for those students who were forced, because of financial circumstances, to undertake a significant amount of paid employment. This form of participation in ECA invariably was considered of no
benefit to the student but was simply a disadvantage:
... in the morning I’m always tired and I don’t pay attention anyway so I’ll just get it off the internet, and I mean I know that’s bad but at the end of the day if I’m going to be asleep during it or just not even pay attention then I’d rather like go to the library, and then if I’ve got any queries follow it up with like the tutor.
(Student 1, Female, 19, Mixed White and Asian, Sports Nutrition & Exercise, independent/private school, 1st generation)... sometimes I’ve missed lessons... because of work because I’ve just either haven’t been able to get out of it or like if lectures are cancelled and moved to another day and I work that day then I can’t go to my lesson because it’s just too difficult for me to swap and change my shifts... But you can always do the extra reading you can always catch up on what has gone on in that lecture and all of the
The continuance of inter-generational advantage and disadvantage was evident in the earlier analysis using a cultural capital lens. The section above highlights the negative implications for learning of those students who need to work in order to support themselves.
8. Staff perspectives
8.1 Staff interviews – methodology We carried out 18 interviews with staff selected from across the range of university courses, and to reflect different length of experience, seniority, gender and ethnic composition. The sample was designed with diversity of experience in mind and was not intended to be representative. Nine of the interviews were with women and out of the total, fifteen self-defined as White and three as BME. Six respondents were at Principle Lecturer level or above. In the reporting we have grouped courses together to indicate the disciplinary/professional areas as this was important for our analysis, but we avoid the use of course titles as this could compromise anonymity. The purpose of the interviews was to understand how staff thought about ECA, to delve into their definitions and probe whether they saw some activities as more legitimate than others, and to explore if and how experiences gained through ECA were represented or acknowledged in any way in the curriculum. We also explored possible areas of tension and if and how they recognised commitments to ECA as legitimate sources of mitigation. The interview schedule is in Appendix V. We used the same prompt sheet of possible ECA that we had used with the students (Appendix IV). The interview varied in length from approximately 30 minutes to one and half hours, with most of them clustering around an hour.
The interview approach was to prompt until we were clear about meanings of ECA for the individual, and how individuals understood the curricular in their area in relationship to the extra-curricular.
The analysis was based on repeated reading and analytical coding based on this reading. Our categories were more inductively derived than the analysis of the student data where we had a prior theoretical framing, although it rapidly became apparent that previous work on PDP and disciplinary orientations was relevant (Clegg & Bradley, 2006). In this work we explored different approaches to PDP in relation to Bernstein’s distinction between singulars that involve strong boundary maintenance and generic modes where, according to Bernstein, “the performances to which they give rise are directly linked to instrumentalities of the market, to the construction of what are considered to be flexible performances … From this point of view their identity is constructed by the procedures of projection” (Bernstein, 2000, p. 55), and his distinction between introjection and projection. Additionally, it became apparent that the The Higher Education Academy 75 boundaries between curricular and extra-curricular varied considerably between disciplines/inter-disciplines and professions. As Barnett and Coate (2005) note, ‘curriculum’ is a missing term in much thinking about higher education. The ways staff defined extra-curricular varied widely depending on their implicit understandings of what they deemed to be the scope of the curricular and therefore what is ‘outside’ or ‘extra’ about extra-curricular. Our analysis is presented in two interrelated sections. The first deals with the issue of curricular/extra-curricular. The second deals with a Bernsteinian framing of the differences between the disciplinary, inter-disciplinary and professional courses described by staff. Based on our reading of the interviews we also explored how staff worked with issues of identity in relationship to the student and the extent to which they saw their business as the discipline or knowledge, i.e. as epistemological concerns, and the extent to which they were engaged in the essentially ontological task of producing particular sorts of persons. Different stances on these issues emerged within courses sharing in the same position in our Bernsteinian quadrant.
Curricular and extra-curricular mappings and knowledge
We found that:
1. There is considerable blurring of what constitutes curricular and extracurricular.
2. Many participants appeared not to have stable or highly developed views on the subject prior to interview.
3. Respondents had a varying sense of the extent to which they had knowledge of the ECA in which their students participated.
8.2.1 Blurring of the curricular and extra-curricular The issue of the boundaries of the curricular became immediately obvious in the ways in which staff approached the question of the extra-curricular. Some staff
answered immediately with regard to what they provided:
I interpret the term, for me it’s about doing something extra, over and above, providing something extra for the students, over and above the standard kind of 12-week teaching programme so we’ve got, over and above the theoretical aspects I suppose so that they can apply the theory to the industry.
(Staff 2, Male, White, SL, Hospitality) Here, extra-curricular is assumed to be provided by staff in addition to the formal curriculum, which is understood in restricted terms as involving only formally organised classroom teaching. There is a considerable blurring in his definition. Paid work, for example, occupied a double position. Extra-curricular in the sense above, organised as work experience and placement for the students, and also extra-curricular as outside both formal teaching and outside the extended course sense of extra-curricular. This second sense encompassed work in the industry that students were doing out of economic necessity and was organised and initiated by them completely independently of the course. Both forms of employment were valorised as learning experiences The Higher Education Academy 76 in what is a heavily vocational area. Students without this sort of experience were seen as at a considerable disadvantage in their ability to see the salience of the more theoretical aspects of the course. The distinction that was drawn between the two forms was not in relation to the potential for learning and the relationship to the narrowly conceived formal teaching curriculum, but rather in relationship to the amount of such activity students engaged in that could distract from their studies. This definition of extra-curricular as being initiated by staff, and being seen as both ‘extra’ and simultaneously a curricular activity was also expressed by a humanities lecturer who spontaneously volunteered the
example as follows:
One thing is that we’ve got a history of taking students on study trips.
Paris for the first-years, so several years of doing that except this year, we didn’t have enough people sign up to make it worthwhile so that’s collapsed I’m afraid to say. And we’ve taken second-years on a study trip to Berlin and are planning to take them to Krakow this year so I see that as a kind of extra-curricular activity where there’s a kind of, we produce some teaching materials and we take them on educational walks and trips and then give them free time to go and do whatever they want to do.
(Staff 3, Male, SL, Humanities) Examples of staff initiated and organised activities being deemed extracurricular, even where in some instances they earned credit, were common
across the disciplines:
I suppose when I was back as a teacher, I did extra-curricular activities, like drama classes and netball groups and all sorts of things like that, so the whole range of sport and extra interest, creative things here and I would apply that to older people and students and even myself I suppose as well. But I then put, thinking that I’m not as concerned with that sort of thing at the moment, my immediate reaction when you said this and in particular because of what we are dealing with this morning, is that I co-ordinate Erasmus exchanges within the Faculty and so there’s that aspect and international placement and I have lots and lots of international links, like project work and various things, so involving students that I can, it’s hard work and very little return.
(Staff 9, Female, SL, Education) The Erasmus placements bear credit, which the member of staff thinks an advantage.
Who is initiating and what makes these activities extra-curricular is somewhat
Activities that students are given that they engage in outside of the course in their own time, but I suppose are provided for by the University.
(Staff 15, Male, Professor, Built Environment) This blurring of where the initiative for ECA lies, and whether they are credit bearing or not, is in some ways unsurprising given the high profile advocacy of The Higher Education Academy 77 volunteering and other community activities within the University. While these sorts of activities might be seen to be classically ECA, engaged in completely outside any form of curricular engagement, the Community Partnerships and Volunteering Office (which is distinct from the SU based Community Action @ Leeds Met) operates both as volunteering and as a form of accredited