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1. Discipline, inter-disciplinary and profession orientations varied in their degree of projection and that this was associated with the valuing of ECA.
2. There are differences between courses that are primarily knowledge or ontologically orientated and the understanding of ECA.
3. Staff were aware of disbenefits as well as benefits of ECA.
8.3.1 Degrees of introjection and projection A simplified Bernsteinian model allows us to distinguish between courses based on whether they are primarily singular or generic, and whether they are primarily based on introjection or projection. This does not equate simply to discipline, in previous work we have shown that in some circumstances both history and science can share the same mapping depending on the orientations of the course (Clegg & Bradley, 2006). There is nothing essentialist about our approach as we are adopting this mapping purely as a heuristic in trying to make sense of our data. As in our previous research we are interested in these positions based on the local understanding and structure of courses themselves not some prior or pure conception of discipline as such. However, the mapping does help us distinguish between: traditional academic orientations (singular involving strong boundary maintenance, and introjection based on an orientation towards distinctive academic concerns and knowledge); and professional courses such as Health and Education based on projection outwards to the profession but with strong boundary maintainence.
Market/employment-orientated courses are projectional but involve loose boundary maintenance with regard to the curriculum, and similarly highly valueorientated areas like global ethics have loose boundaries but the projectional is towards the ethical values of the voluntary sector and NGOs rather than the market. We have distinguished between these two forms of generic/projection in order to flag the ways in which not all projectional projects are necessarily simply orientated to the market, but might in themselves share highly valorised ethical stances that have much in common with volunteering; this position is characteristic of some of the courses in global ethics. We did not have data that could be characterised as residing in the introjection/generic position and we suspect this positioning is rarer; however, we speculate that some courses in some places might fill that space – for example, there are developments in the field of global ethics that while highly generic are introverted in their academic orientation. The examples in our study, however, were clearly projectional.
In presenting our analysis around this mapping we should be understood to be generating theory rather than testing it. However, our data suggest that there are some distinctive patterns in relationship to the understanding of ECA and their recognition in the curriculum that are related to the orientations of courses.
The more academic courses (introjection/singular) appeared to valorise the sorts of ECA that could be seen to relate to the curriculum in a direct way and to struggle with relating to ECA to more general outcomes such as employability.
The example in the previous section of the History trip is a good one, where a study trip had been organised with notes from staff. This activity could be seen as directly contributing to the knowledge base of the subject. The same participant also gave examples of where participation in political events and seminars was positively valued in relation to curriculum content. However, while recognising that such participation might also contribute to employability this respondent described himself and his colleagues as struggling with their
expertise in making these linkages:
Staff 3: I think they need to be encouraged to realise that they can draw upon these things [ECA]. Again go back to the Employability Office as the people who I think are kind of like best at doing that.
I: And you know the Employability Office do they offer that service across the University?
Staff 3: They do but they’re only small and I think they’ve got smaller and they’ve got, they might have a limited life span so they’ve said to us that this is the last year they’re gonna help us and that really they think we ought to embed it ourselves and do it ourselves whereas we think well, we don’t know anything about this really. This isn’t our area of expertise.
I: They’re the experts?
Staff 3: Yes, they’re the experts so we’re just gonna get, you know we’re just amateurs about it. If we could get better jobs we would have got better jobs and gone so … I have been given like a big folder of, you know about employability and PDP etc for the future.
(Staff 3, Male, SL, Humanities) The Higher Education Academy 83 This interviewee also represented paid work as creating problems for the
Staff 3: I think more students are just relying on student loans but there are always some who are, who do have to work. And actually in terms of extra-curricular activity, if that’s included as extracurricular activity, that is probably where there’s a bigger tension of, between our demands and their demands. You know like people unable to make seminars because they’ve got work commitments or missing lectures because they’ve got work commitments or whatever it is. There’s always several students who are in that position.
I: Right and do you have a sort of position or a stand on that, how you would deal with that?
Staff 3: Well, by negotiation really because I think, I’ve got to say that you must prioritise your academic commitments. That’s got to be the main thing but we recognise that you know some people are going to have to work and if there’s a clash, we expect you to resolve it in favour of your academic demands.
(Staff 3, Male, SL, Humanities) These tensions extended to other activities, not just employment. Activities that distracted from the intellectual engagement with the course and created
conflicting time demands were seen as causing difficulties:
I think some of the sporting activities – we have problems in that our timetable is always very crammed, and so we have to have lectures and seminars on a Wednesday morning. And we don’t have a lot of students who are actively involved in sport at a very high level, but I think that has occasionally caused problems in the past with them needing to go fixtures and that kind of thing. Political activities – I think the students on the History Politics degree probably benefit from that kind of involvement, because it is what they are studying anyway. And to be honest, I think family and domestic responsibilities probably detract from your engagement with the course.
(Staff 12, Female, Reader, Humanities) While this tension was a theme across the whole dataset, it nonetheless appeared to be more acute in relationship to those courses/modules that were most firmly rooted in the academic and is a major structuring theme in this interview. One member of staff reflecting back on his experiences in Sociology generalised the argument in much the same way as we are suggesting in this
Well I mean, my colleagues, I mean it was blatant, my colleagues didn’t think in sociology, didn’t think there was either the time or the expertise to get students out into neighbourhoods for their dissertations or for part of their learning experiences and I never tried to introduce it, I mean I used to encourage students who wanted to do dissertations that were slightly of a more engaged nature, I used to encourage them, but it was positively discouraged by other colleagues, it was one of the things that absolutely amazes me about the social sciences here and there are other universities where they The Higher Education Academy 84 have massive programmes of community-based learning, you know, fully accredited, I have seen module handbooks and things, so my stuff are doing amazing work with their students in the social sciences, so to be honest I haven’t really, you know in my own teaching practice, I haven’t really tested this out and I have become much more interested in it and making much more effort to promote it in this new job and where I am pushing at a completely open door is with all the vocational courses, whether it’s PR students or whether it’s Sport and Leisure students or whether its Occupational Health or whatever, they see all these connections.
(Staff 10, Male, Manager, Sociology) While we are not suggesting that Humanities or Sociology are distinctive in these respects, and it would be easy to imagine courses with the same disciplinary basis but with a different orientation, it does seem likely that courses that are singular and introjected will struggle with the language and ideology of the contributions of ECA, even in fact if students on these courses are gaining both curricular and extra-curricular benefits (Clegg & Bradley, 2004).
In contrast to the introjected/singular position of the courses above, staff on Health and Education courses (projected/singular) embraced the contribution of ECA. Our respondents on some of these courses gave sophisticated accounts of how the ECA of their students were recognised within the courses. They were used as launch pads for reflections and documented as part of a portfolio demonstrating the developing the attributes necessary for future graduate
employment and leadership:
Interestingly, even those who are employed by their Trusts [NHS Trusts are responsible for the delivery of health care] and will go back to work in that Trust, they are working at a lower level and have got to apply for their job as a specialist level, so they are still in that.
Some Trusts kind of have a process that when you have done the degree you’ll automatically get it, and some are being supported by one Trust but only for that period of time while they are doing the course and then they have got to look for a job, so they have got to look for a job, and we do employability and CV building as part of the course. But I do stress the importance of those other things that are done outside of the work, like for instance the Chair of the hockey club or the Captain of the hockey team and the Brownie leader and the Lay Preacher, you know the different things they do, that those are actually important things to get down on your CV, and they wouldn’t necessarily think it is. But you know, saying to them how you can articulate that what you are doing there is helping you to be the good specialist nurse that they want you to be. You know the Captain of the hockey team, most of her kids are about 16, 17, you know so she has, she manages young people with all the kind of facets of their personality and challenges that go with it and that’s really excellent for her work that she’s in working in her paid time.
(Staff 11, Female, SL, Health) The Higher Education Academy 85 Similarly in Education, ECA were valued but there were anxieties about a
narrowing of curriculum that made the valuing of ECA more difficult:
Well I think and strongly believe we should be accounting for the breadth of what they’re doing and experiences and valuing it and I definitely, because when you’re working with young children coming from a range of backgrounds, some of our students have got narrow experiences and how do we widen that so that they can work in children’s best needs. So yes, I’m not sure without rewriting our courses which we have just done, how we would get there. But I think we should be valuing them, we should be showing this is of value, this is really important.
(Staff 9, Female, SL, Education) She attributed the narrowing of the curriculum, and the scope therefore for being able to recognise the value of extra-curricular, to external professional regulation and the narrowing effects of government reforms of the curriculum in schools. She felt that these pressures were restricting the capacity of courses like hers to develop the full range of graduate attributes she would like to see and that she felt were necessary for professional flourishing. The tone of the interview was one of regret for a period in which there was more scope for a recognition of the value of ECA.