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Pamela Jacobs Liz Barrett School of Psychology

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1 Pamela Jacobs Liz Barrett School of Psychology
“We don’t belong” – problems of progression for foundation degree students Pamela Jacobs Liz Barrett School of Psychology

2 Foundation degree programs
Foundation Degrees (FD) were introduced in 2001 and are at centre of government policy for HE. They were developed as a high level qualification. Designed to meet skills shortages and seen as an important part of widening participation. Bring together academic institutions and employers to create a blend of academic and work based learning. Currently, FE & HE institutions in the SW offer 638 foundation degree programmes in 21 subject areas(UCAS 2007/8). Foundation degree programs

3 University of Plymouth and FD
University of Plymouth, Faculty of Science (FOS), has links with 81 foundation programmes, most of which are delivered by FE partner colleges; UPC. Students can apply to do a ‘top up’ year onto one of 14 different honours degrees programmes In 2006, 144 students came into FOS, most of whom completed the top up year. In 2007,around 80 students entered the faculty of science: Health and Fitness, Animal science, Wild life conservation, Applied Psychology (non GBR) & Biological Sciences. University of Plymouth and FD

4 Students not sufficiently prepared for ‘top up’ year
research methods and statistics, critical analysis, report writing, literature reviews Stage two marks from college lead to inflation of degree class No ‘affective’ commitment to programme, faculty/university – students emotional attachment is to the college. Typically mature students with travel, home & work commitments Adjustment to a new culture/climate – expectations created by colleges Dependant learners and take up staff time Often no exam experience – or been hugely supported through assessments. FOS Concerns – staff

5 Concerns among FD students
Timetabling & Work-life balance Change in learning culture Change in marking standards Academic staff – unapproachable Not sufficient preparation for final top up year: research awareness poor, text books not research papers Cant see the point of some modules and knowledge: i.e. statistics & critical analysis Often top up year guidance is poor. Concerns among FD students

6 To examine the progression experiences of students who make the transition from FD to BSc Honours programmes in the Faculty of Science. To investigate the experiences of academic staff in FE and in the FOS that supervise, advise and liaise with FD students prior to and during their top up year. To compare the exam performance and degree classification of students with FD compared with students on traditional degree programmes. The aims of the study

7 Top up year tended to be highly stressful- complained of lower levels of personal and academic support. Students found that much greater emphasis on independent learning and different approaches to teaching Research – Greenbank 2007

8 Analysis of performance data from coursework and exams, 2006 and 2007 cohorts
Interviews with academic staff and ex and current FD students Questionnaire based study The student ASSET – a stress screening tool. Transition to final year of study questionnaire. Administered to all final year students in FOS March 2008. Programme of research

9 Comparison of FD students to traditional students
2006 cohort data: Biological Sciences programmes (N= 291; FD = 45, UOP = 246) level 2 % aggregate UOP mean = 58, SD = 7.8, FD mean = 64, SD = 8.6; p=.001 Level 3 % aggregate UOP mean = 60, SD = 9.06, FD mean = 57, SD 12.8; p=.018 Final % mark, ratio taken into account UOP mean = 59.91, SD = FD mean = 59.19, SD = 9.84 p = NS. Comparison of FD students to traditional students

10 Research Projects Year 3 Research Project % Mark
UOP mean = 62.3, SD = 8.7, FD mean = 55.5, SD = 14.3 p=.017 Biological science students submit their research project introduction and methods sections get feedback and re-submit as part of the final report. Research Projects

11 Most commonly occurring degree classification for UOP Biological Sciences student is upper 2nd, 48% of students, with 15% getting first class degrees. Very few failures, very few withdraw during the year – usually due to illness serious family problems and return in the future. Foundation degree students more problems – 8% degree without honours, always get a few who don’t complete the year or withdraw during the year, typically these don’t return. There are more retakes, but also 20% getting first class degrees. Degree class

12 Preliminary conclusions
Typically, FD students enter their final year of study with higher marks from year 2 of study when compared to traditional students. FD students typically score lower in their final year of study When weighting of year two and year three combined FD and traditional students get similar results Some FD student struggle with the research project A large proportion of FD get first class honours compared to traditional students due to the 2nd year aggregate marks they bring with them from foundation degrees. Given us testable hypothesis for analysing 2007 cohort: all data from exam boards in FOS. Preliminary conclusions

13 Interviews Interview study: semi-structured interviews
*8 interviews with current FD students (undergraduate project – Liz Barrett) *10 interviews with previous FD student 4 interviews with FD teaching staff 8 interviews with traditional undergraduate students 5 interviews with university academic staff Using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis Some taped for analysis, some notes taken Interviews

14 IPA analysis of FD student interviews
Emerging Themes Conflict & Barriers Differences Processes & Transitions Relationships Organisational engagement Anxiety & Fear Self-esteem IPA analysis of FD student interviews

15 Teaching at college: Differences & Relationships
Personal relationship with academic staff with – lots of support, ‘friendly’, ‘mates’, ‘going to pub together’ given personal mobile phone numbers. Teaching is at ‘basic level’, ‘not theoretical very applied’ “ group discussion on things rather than lectures….. which I liked” “ we just get what was needed to know… for exams….”, “ practice these a lot” “spoon fed” “put on a plate” “you knew what you needed to do and write about” This level of support was interpreted positively. “they really helped you, they wanted you to pass” Teaching at college: Differences & Relationships

16 Teaching at College relationships & conflict
“one lecturer for the whole of our 2nd year” “lots of changes in staff…one person left just before our exams” “no continuity… when new person came in they would ignore what … had taught us and cover the same things” “Students were very demanding…if there was something we didn't like.. we demanded they change it…it was really good.. we stood up in class and said if we didn’t like it” “ we had to demand our own place, we were you know…, a degree student, not taking some night class” formed close allegiance with college and staff Teaching at College relationships & conflict

17 Teaching at university: conflict and relationships
Academic staff , “scientific”, “impersonal”, “unfriendly”, “distant”, “expect independence and for you to know everything” “ if you asked and could find someone, you were given support….but only some sort of academic.. My tutor would say ‘that's not something I can deal with’ go and find….” “ you have to change to fit the university” “Why should we pay so they can do their personal research…..they are only interested in our fees” Reduced feeling of control, not wanted, not valued seen as an inconvience . Teaching at university: conflict and relationships

18 University staff – barriers & relationships
“ they make assumptions that you already have specific knowledge, ‘ remember in module … last year, we did this’ .. but we didn't” “ the other students look at you when you walk in…. all those faces….. I asked them for help,… ed them… but didn’t get one reply… we don’t belong here..I’m gonna make sure the others coming here know it ” “I hate the …. University” “Great… had a fantastic time…my project tutor is excellent” “ you cant make jokes with these lecturers at all they don’t smile” “ there the…… module as well …(name)..and I don’t have a clue what he’s talking about ha ha I just feel sorry for his wife” Hostile environment with few personal relationships and support University staff – barriers & relationships

19 “ …are a little bit rubbish at integrating…left us to our own devices,… we have bridging modules…completely irrelevant to my course…. meeting people has been really difficult…. quite scary” “ they gave us little chats which were completely useless” “Our timetables were wrong… the (contact) numbers they gave us didn’t work” “ I was shocked… but prepared… our tutors( at college) told us what to expect” “ fear of the unknown”.. A bit stressed out” “ its been quite a shock.. A huge difference actually… I was very impressed……. how everything ran” Transitions

20 Summary of other interview analysis
Analysis on-going FD staff – very different conditions of service University staff- FD are competition, why should we cooperate? Traditional students- we should we help, its our final year, we don’t have time/resources (emotional) to help them Summary of other interview analysis

21 Transition to from FD to Honours degree is fraught with problems; for students and staff.
Interventions: befriending scheme & personal tutor for direct entry students Mentoring partner college staff Pressure put on FE colleges to improve conditions of service? Preliminary results from all current final year suggest traditional and FD degree students have similar range of issues. Conclusions


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