Like spinning a coin? student perceptions of the relevance of formal transnational study to their workplace and career aspirations

Presentation


Cleary, Kaye. 2007. "Like spinning a coin? student perceptions of the relevance of formal transnational study to their workplace and career aspirations ." 4th Centre for Research in Lifelong Learning 4th International Conference. Stirling, Scotland 22 - 24 Jun 2007 Stirling, Scotland.
Paper/Presentation Title

Like spinning a coin? student perceptions of the relevance of formal transnational study to their workplace and career aspirations

Presentation TypePresentation
Authors
AuthorCleary, Kaye
Journal or Proceedings TitleThe Times They are a Changin': Researching Transitions in Lifelong Learning
Number of Pages13
Year2007
Place of PublicationStirling, Scotland
Conference/Event4th Centre for Research in Lifelong Learning 4th International Conference
Event Details
4th Centre for Research in Lifelong Learning 4th International Conference
Event Date
22 to end of 24 Jun 2007
Event Location
Stirling, Scotland
Abstract

This paper reports on part of a longitudinal study of a Faculty of Education’s online masters program. A multi-phased evaluation based upon Stufflebeam’s CIPP model (Context, Input, Process and Product) is underway. The first phase, completed in 2004, revealed pockets of active lifelong learners who highly valued the learning communities/alliances developed during the course of their candidature (Reushle & Cleary 2004). Student comments indicated that these communities were not merely class-based learning communities, but as connections were formed and strengthened through re-acquaintance in subsequent classes, the ‘community’ developed richer characteristics associated with communities of practice. On the whole, students were not content to absorb knowledge, learning to become competent practitioners. Instead many were driven by a desire to be proponents of change in their local settings, forging directions, challenging the status quo inscribing meaning from reflecting on the richness of ideas fed into their transnational classes paralleled by reflections on their own contexts. We were seeing indications of students straddling two communities, feeding insights from one into the other.

Fostering these communities and the study-work linkages were dual aims in the 2005 re-design of the Faculty’s online programs. A belief that learning is situated in personal, social and organisational contexts underpinned the structure of the program and orientation of courses. A program model drawing upon communities of practice (Yamagata-Lynch, 2001), lifelong learning (Kerka 2000), workplace learning (Billett 2002) and Terry Mayes’ Learning Cycle (Mayes, 2002) was developed. One aspect of the 2006 phase two evaluation seeks to establish the relevance of the new program to the learners’ workplace and their broader career aspirations through an interpretative, participant-orientated study. A survey available to all enrolled online students and those who have graduated or dropped their study in the past year sets the broad parameters for subsequent focus groups and interviews.

This paper investigates and illuminates the manner in which online postgraduate students [co]construct meaning in their transnational course environments and in their workplaces. Students skillfully traverse their personal continuums between their formal and informal learning contexts through a bi-directional flow of engagement (Glastra, Hake & Schedler, 2004) where the fluidity of discourse in the formal setting at one end of the continuum is enriched, transformed and applied in the various workplaces. By applying the lens of lifelong and lifewide learning (Grace 2004, Illeris 2003) the program team aims to gain a better understanding of how students mesh the formal educational requirements of masters study with their non-formal workplace learning. Interdependencies and relatedness between the students’ practice and participation in these communities are examined under the lens of Bourdieu’s concept of habitus and Wenger‘s communities of practice (Wenger, 2000), to illuminate students’ movement across these worlds.

Keywordslifelong learning, career aspirations, online education, student perspectives
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390203. Sociology of education
390303. Higher education
390409. Learning sciences
Byline AffiliationsFaculty of Education
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