What do students value? An investigation into students' value of their higher education experiences using the value-in-experience construct

Weeks, Paul M. (2018) What do students value? An investigation into students' value of their higher education experiences using the value-in-experience construct. Doctoral thesis, Anglia Ruskin University.

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Abstract

The aim of this thesis is to analyse the value that students identify throughout their higher education experience, when they apply to go to university, while they study on their course and are socialising with other students, and when they graduate and are in either full-time employment or studying for a higher qualification. Value was analysed using the value-in-experience concept because, unlike other conceptualisations of value, it allowed the analysis of value throughout the duration of the students’ experiences, which extend well beyond the period in which they are studying. A conceptual framework was developed from a review of the literature on the value construct and value in higher education, which was used to inform the design of the fieldwork. The research was conducted using a case study of a post-1992 university located in two cities in the East of England. Based on the pragmatist philosophical tradition, a two-stage method was used. The first, qualitative stage explored the views of a small number of students and alumni using semi-structured interviews to seek the students’ views on each stage of their university experience. In the second quantitative research stage, convenience sampling was used to distribute a questionnaire to students studying at the two campuses and 526 useable completed questionnaires were obtained. The research findings indicate that value was anticipated in the application stage and realised in all three stages of the higher education experience. During the application process value was anticipated by the applicants based on the image they formed of the university experience they wanted to have from their search for information about the university/course and talking to their family and friends. Younger applicants who wanted to have an independent life and felt that they could fit in and make friends chose to live in university accommodation and wanted to experience the stereotypical student life. Mature students did not want this and chose instead to live at home and maintain their family relationships and existing friendships. The motivation for studying was an important factor in the decision to study for a degree as 84 percent were vocationally orientated and studied for a degree to improve or enhance their career prospects. All the mature students were vocationally orientated whereas minorities of the younger students were academically orientated wanting to study subjects further which they enjoyed. Value was realised in the application process as applicants valued the support and advice they received from family and friends, the experience of attending an open/offer day where they talked to university staff and viewed the facilities and when they obtained a place at the university receiving the esteem of their family. While studying on their course students valued the experiences they had when learning about the subjects they were studying and mixing with other students in academic and social settings. They also valued the relationships they had with the lecturing staff and their fellow students. This was a realisation of the value they had anticipated when they were applying to the university. The value realised in this stage was tempered, however, by poor communication between lecturers and students, lecturers who were unenthusiastic and not prepared to help students when they needed advice or information, when the university did not keep its promises and when they had poor relations with other students. Graduates realised value when they got a job or studied for a higher degree depending on their motivation for studying; applied the skills they had learned on their course and developed their self-confidence. The alumni were also nostalgic about their time at the university and reminisced about their experiences. A revised conceptual framework was produced as a result of the analysis of the research findings. The research study makes a contribution to knowledge in two respects. Firstly, it has pointed to the importance of the student experience which has been seen in the value they realise in all three stages of the higher education experience and anticipate during the application process. Secondly the research study has contributed empirical evidence for the existing theoretical contributions on this subject.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Keywords: student, perceived value, value-in-experience, application process, time studying for a degree, post-graduate experience, Higher Education
Faculty: Theses from Anglia Ruskin University
Depositing User: Ian Walker
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2018 09:22
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2019 10:27
URI: http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/703468

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