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Paul Ashwin,, Andrea Abbas, Ourania Filippakou, Monica McLean Pedagogic Quality and Inequality Project ( Society for Research.

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Presentation on theme: "Paul Ashwin,, Andrea Abbas, Ourania Filippakou, Monica McLean Pedagogic Quality and Inequality Project ( Society for Research."— Presentation transcript:

1 Paul Ashwin,, Andrea Abbas, Ourania Filippakou, Monica McLean Pedagogic Quality and Inequality Project ( Society for Research into Higher Education Annual Conference, Celtic Manor, Newport, December Funded by: Using Life Grids and Interviews to Examine Students Educational Trajectories: A Methodological Discussion

2 Structure The project Life grids and interviews The analytical challenge The theoretical challenge Future challenges

3 The Pedagogic Quality and Inequality Project Three-year ESRC funded research project (just started year 2); Focuses on the quality of teaching, learning and curricula in undergraduate sociology and allied subjects in four universities that have different reputations for the quality of the undergraduate experience that they offer. The study aims to question the assumptions underlying these reputations through an in-depth study of the relations between what students bring to university, their experiences of university education and what they gain from these experiences. In conceptualising the project, we draw on Basil Bernsteins work on pedagogic rights, identities and discourses.

4 Life grids and Interviews To capture a sense of first year students educational trajectories we are using life grids and interviews to develop an understanding of how the current experiences of students are related to their previous experiences In our meetings with students, we first complete the life grid with them which examines their past experiences (see example). The outcome of this is the completed life-grid; We then interview them about their current experiences of studying at their university. The outcome of this is a transcript of the interview.

5 The analytical challenge How do we relate these two forms of data? Initially attempted to analyse them together; Now we are analysing them separately and one way we are using them is to examine the relations between certain kinds of trajectory prior to higher education and experiences of higher education; We will also revisit the life grids with our case study students; Use them to interpret other forms of data; Use them as a way to present data. Are we in danger of losing a sense of the richness of the life grid?

6 The theoretical challenge 1 How do we give the data space to challenge Bernsteins theory? Bernsteins (2000) notion of languages of description (see also Dowling 1998; Brown 2006): Internal language of description: language of conceptual models; External language of description: descriptions provided by empirical data. Both internal and external languages of description need to be explicit and related to each other in a non-circular manner.

7 The theoretical challenge 2 To develop our external language of description, we have focused on understanding students trajectories in terms of: Previous Education and Employment, Current Education, Me Now, Future Identities, Family, and Wider University. When we have developed a sense of the meaning of, and variation within, these categories, we will then examine this in relation to Bernsteins concepts; Will Bernsteins concepts already be implicit in how we work with these categories and prevent a separation between the internal and external language of description? (Abbas et al. 2009)

8 Future Challenges Capturing the students developing trajectories through our case studies; Relating these trajectories to other aspects of students lives; Relating these trajectories to institutional settings; Bringing in the national and international educational contexts; Finding ways of developing Bernsteins theoretical concepts.

9 References Abbas, A., Ashwin, P., Fillappakou, O. and McLean, M. (2009) Researching teaching quality in higher education: ethical and methodological issues. European Sociological Association Annual Conference, September, Lisbon. Bernstein, B. (2000) Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity: Theory, Research and Critique. Revised Edition. Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. Brown, A. (2006) Languages of description and the education of researchers. In R. Moore, M. Arnot, J. Beck, and H. Daniels (eds) Knowledge, Power and Educational Reform: Applying the Sociology of Basil Bernstein. London: Routledge. Dowling, P. (1998) The Sociology of Mathematics of Education: Mathematical Myths/Pedagogical Texts. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

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