• Contextualised approaches to widening participation: a comparative case study of two UK universities

      Butcher, John; Corfield, Rohini; Rose-Adams, John; University of Derby; University of Northampton; Open University (The Open University/, 2012-01)
      This article reports on institutional research at two contrasting UK universities, each with different foci in relation to widening participation (WP). The researchers sought to explore senior staff perspectives on the WP agenda at a time of unprecedented uncertainty and turmoil in the UK higher education sector. The research consisted primarily of interview data from university leaders responsible strategically for WP activity. The findings offer a nuanced narrative of the policy and practice of widening participation at two contrasting universities. Researchers found that the WP discourse itself is perceived as confused and discredited. Viewing ‘widening participation students’ as a homogenised group risks both the benefits of differentiated responses through discipline or subject areas and the benefits of more student-centred measures of success.
    • Enhancing professional self-esteem: learners’ journeys on a distance-learning Doctorate in Education (EdD)

      Butcher, John; Sieminski, Sandy; University of Northampton; Open University (University of Northampton, 2009)
      This article explores the motivations, experiences and perceived outcomes for Doctorate in Education (EdD) students in their journey through a relatively new form of doctoral education at a distance. The research draws on a range of individual EdD participant voices, both student and graduate, and is timely in focusing on an example of an under-researched but increasingly common phenomenon of part-time distance learning professional doctorates. The aims of the research were: to understand what motivated students to register for an EdD; to explore the factors which successfully sustained them on their journey; to identify common outcomes on completion. The researchers developed a case study of the student EdD journey in its distinctive professional context(s). Data was collected in a number of linked stages including postal surveys, semi-structured interviews, and students’ reflective evaluations at different points. Key themes related to professional postgraduate learner transitions emerge from the data, which contrast with previous work on the traditional PhD and relate to: the deliberate choice by students of a part-time distance learning route; a broader and better-informed understanding of professional outcomes on a professionally-oriented doctorate; the value of flexible support systems for EdD students working in demanding educational roles.