02 November 2017

One Size Does Not Fit All - Anthropological & Pedagogical Research on Mature Students

In a follow up from our post on Monday, anthro everywhere! blogger Jennifer Long continues to discuss her new pedagogical research project in collaboration with Ms. Silvie Tanu Halim at the W. Booth School of Engineering Practice & Technology. 

Here, we as researchers are interested in exploring the educational experiences and learning preferences of mature and/or non-traditional students and, to explore how these perspectives differ depending on the instruction medium. We left off last day promising to further explain the types of questions would wanted to ask.

As mentioned in the previous post, our population would include students signed up to the Degree Completion Program. These students have completed (at least) an advanced diploma from a College. 

What assumptions do we make about this population? 

As mentioned in the last post, we assume that these students will have more or different competing responsibilities for their time. To expand on this point, we find that the majority of our students do not come straight from a college program but are returning to post-secondary education after having begun their career. Therefore, these students typically work a 40 hour work week, may have dependents to care for, and other commitments on their time.

In their exploration of the role of anthropological knowledge outside the classroom, Coleman and Simpson (1999) find that anthropological knowledge provides: (1) a unique opportunity to hold a mirror up to one's own life circumstances and (2) a chance to reflect on one's personal experiences. However, the cultural outcomes of participating in higher education may generate contrasting relationships outside of school and personal change that is not without a problematic middle-class undertone. Citing David James (1995), the authors warn  that post-secondary participation may very well reproduce a social distance between one's university and home life. Importantly, these authors - using Alison James' work - help us question how a return to university may be felt by some to be a world of new possibilities and for others, an alternative form of personal  displacement and dis-empowerment.

How then, are our DCP students experiencing their education here at SEPT? Are they experiencing a new world of possibilities or personal displacement and dis-empowerment. What is the role of the medium of pedagogy - and how does his affect how these students experience their post-secondary education? 

Below are a list of questions we included in our online survey to help understand the rounded picture of people's lives (borrowed from Coleman and Simpson). Next week, we'll follow up with an overview of the questions around the mediums (paths) of learning:
  1. Your gender (multiple options available)
  2. Your age (range)
  3. Hours per week spent on family and household responsibilities (range)
  4. Hours per week spent on work, work-related activities (e.g. travel), or other weekly tasks (e.g. volunteering, searching for work, etc. ) during a typical (or average) work week throughout the year (range)
  5. How do you prefer to learn new course material? (Options include in class, online, or on your own through self-directed learning (i.e. using course materials to complete tasks at your own pace according to set deadlines)? Follow up question: Why? [Open text box]
  6. How do you learn (new course material) most effectively? Options include in class, online, or self-directed learning (definitions integrated into survey). Why? [Open text box]
  7. As a mature student, how will your educational experience differ from those traditional students entering university directly from high school? [Open text box]

Want to use these questions for your own work? 
Please cite this source as follows:
Long, J., & Tanu Halim, S. (2017, November 02). One Size Does Not Fit All - Anthropological & Pedagogical Research on Mature Students [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://anthrolens.blogspot.com/2017/11/one-size-does-not-fit-all.html

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