«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 ...»
Accounts of employers pressurising students, and failing to be flexible were also evident. Some previous research has looked to the ways in which curriculum can adapt to meeting the needs of students faced with employment (e.g. Smith et al., 2004). Our research, however, suggests that there nonetheless remain very real tensions that are not simply attitudinal, although of course there are varying degrees of recognition and curriculum adaptation. We have decided to make a recommendation that recognises many students will continue to need to work, but looks towards attempting to understand the ways in which employers might be brought into the debate. This recommendation is not entailed by our The Higher Education Academy 93 findings, rather our findings provoked us into the recognition of a gap in our knowledge and conceptualisations. Employers have clearly a stake in graduate attributes, but we know little, or nothing, about how they regard the neophyte graduates in their employment who are currently engaged in what for the student is an ECA.
Recommendation 4 Research is required that explores how employers regard their student employees and what, if any, attempts are made to recognise curricular pressures on students in relationship to what for them is an ECA.
Our final conclusion relates to the gendered nature of caring responsibilities and again in relationship to the general sociological literature, this presents no surprises. Women now make up over half the undergraduate higher education population and their participation might be accounted one of higher education’s success stories. However, differential participation by discipline/profession remains. Our survey data also indicate that women may be less likely to selfreport activities as ECA. Our final recommendation is, therefore, for more research into how gendered and other social judgements influence the valorisation of ECA. Our data were insufficient to identify any patterns in relationship to faith or ethnicity, although the examples we had of where religion was positively valued both came from the health area. We therefore suspect that recognition is highly complex phenomenon and relates to the intersections between class, race, gender and other forms of difference, rather than operating separately.
Recommendation 5 More research is required that addresses issues of intersectionality in relationship to the differential valuing of ECA.
We are aware that three of our five recommendations relate to calls for more research. The reasons for this are twofold: the relative lack of prior research, and our findings themselves, which revealed a complex, messy story. Our data are immensely rich and provide insight into the complexity of the meanings and valuing of ECA. We are cautious, therefore, of making firm policy or curriculum recommendations that are not entailed by our findings. Rather we hope the readers of this report will be stimulated to ask more questions of their own students, to consider more deeply the meaning of their curriculum, and to question their own definitions and valuing of the different forms of ECA.
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