Presentation on theme: "Mature students in Higher Education: does age matter? Anne Jamieson BILL Seminar March 06."— Presentation transcript:
Mature students in Higher Education: does age matter? Anne Jamieson BILL Seminar March 06
Aim: To explore some of the ways in which age is (is not) related to aspects of Higher Education study in adulthood What difference does age make? (level and subject of study; socio-economic background; reasons for studying and reported benefits) For the older (51+ and 61+) students, what is the importance of studying for a qualification ? Are there any pedagogical implications? What further knowledge do we need?
Background and Context Education context. HE funding policies – outcome driven and evidence based Lack of evidence about motivations and benefits of HE for mature students Older adults relatively low priority – yet some do find their way to us – can policy makers be persuaded that they are worthwhile investing in?
Gerontology context Post-retirement strategies: can existing theories of ageing help us understand the significance of study in later life? Can research on older students help inform gerontological theory? Educational gerontology: main focus on informal and non-accredited formal learning – majority of learning.
Birkbeck (OU) study Aim: to understand more about the economic and social benefits of part-time study. Three-year study of a cohort of graduates: 1. Postal questionnaire survey (year 1) 2. Interviews with sub-sample (year 2) 3. Follow-up survey (year 3)
Birkbeck study population Questionnaires to 600 undergraduate finalists in September 03 and to 1,000 post-graduates and 1,100Certificate/Diploma graduates in January 04. So, all completed their progr. of study Response: 356 Undergraduates (UGs) (59% response rate) 589 Post-graduates (PGs) ( 59% response rate) 594 Certificate and Diploma graduates (CEs) (54% response rate) Overall response rate was 58% Total responses: 1,539
Questions asked about: 1.Background characteristics Employment and income Involvement in community Socio-economic status; parents education 2.Study reasons for study benefits of study
Open University study Similar size population (sample of graduates) Same questionnaire Same range of qualifications
Qualification as outcome Status and self-esteem: Catching up with peers/family; validation Or Replacement of lost status (retirement)
Qualification as outcome I wanted to have something to do….I did not want to just flit about being retired as it were, I did not see myself as retiring, I see myself as going on to a new venture.. I want to be stretched intellectually and fairly…I dont have a degree and I suppose I have collected various other qualifications along the way..I think I felt that if I collect enough its going to sort of ….that was a bad decision I made at 18+...its validated my feeling that I could have done a degree…it is that sort of degree level…all my family have degrees.
Qualification as outcome I just want to have a degree – I want to prove that I can do it too...more than that: I am basically lazy...need a regime…it gives me a plan of work..somebody to tell me what to do….I do actually enjoy essay writing,, but I am not clear why they want us to do it… Education is the main centre of my life, I run my life in order to be able to take these courses..I will take the degree if I can....after that a PhD, just to be able to say I have got it. I want to know: can I get it? Have I got that sort of brain?…. I am extremely competitive, that is my attitude..I go into a sulk if I dont get a top mark in my essay.
Studying for a qualification (process) Life structure; milestones Clear challenge; sense of achievement Enhancing the learning
Qualification and process I am not interested in the qualification….but at the same time it is an objective…I need a tangible qualification as a marker…I like the feed-back I get from my coursework…I like a challenge when it is self-made
Qualification as process I dread the coursework deadlines….but I need them to give me structure…and to show mastery of the subject…It is a sort of masochistic pleasure...it has to hurt....intensive learning…brings out the adrenalin junkie in me…
Stress as challenge Up to a point, stress can have a positive function (inverted U function) Self-imposed stress (demand) as a coping strategy in later life
Demand-control-support model demand control support active healthy Overstressed Ill health
Conclusions 1.Overall some age based trends: older students give fewer work related reasons and benefits 2.Some differences among older students: –Those 50-60 (and some over 60): work reasons not inconsiderable –Qualification for progression matters to a considerable proportion of older respondents –Qualification as a benefit is highlighted by the majority, more so by those with undergraduate degrees than with post-grad. Qual. (though different pattern for OU) –Considerable differences between older women and men in terms of wider, personal and social benefits 3.Issue: are we talking about types of students or types of circumstances?
Life course perspective Our biographical and other longitudinal research suggests a great deal of movement of individuals over time between being non- student, doing an evening class for interest, studying for a certificate, studying at the OU, studying at Bbk, attending U3A events…. Also some students have several student roles (motivations) at any one time – e.g. OU and BBK
Main reasons for studying for qualification – other than instrumental work/progression related Wish to acquire a skill, e.g. language; IT (need for feed-back and checking) Deep and passionate interest in the subject – identity related (as distinct from leisure learning)