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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Supporting Part Time Students Through Transition from Further Education to Higher Education: Fostering Conditions for a Caring Community

Duffy, Kate (2013) Supporting Part Time Students Through Transition from Further Education to Higher Education: Fostering Conditions for a Caring Community. In: Edulearn13, 1 - 3 Jul 2013, Barcelona, Spain.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


The aim of this ethnographical study was to illuminate the experiences of mature part time degree students in the use of online social media. The media was used as a means of supporting students in their transition from their respective Further Education (FE) colleges to their ‘on campus’ University (HE) year. The transition involved students moving between institutions to study in a new location and in new peer groups which had historically contributed to dips in confidence and performance and sometimes led to students withdrawing from the programme. The open access, online network (NING) was introduced to allow students to engage with learning activities as a stimulus for online discussion and dialogue with each other through a series of non-assessed ‘blog’ postings (Olofsson, 2007; Dawson 2008; Knight & Rochan 2012). Its purpose was to encourage both the students and the teacher to share their ideas and views and begin ‘talking’ and ‘listening’ (Crawford 2009) to each other prior to meeting in the new term. Noddings (1984), Garrison (1997) and Pring (2004) recognise the importance of strengthening positive relationships between students and teacher and advocate that this is an essential element towards fostering conditions for learning and building a sense of community face to face just as Olofsson (2007) and Yang (2009) noted about online learning. It also aimed to address Oloffsson’s (2007) suggestion for the design of online communities in the 21st century, that any pedagogical approach to online learning must rely on the ‘…social and collaborative and ethical aspects of learning as a starting point for design’ (pg 28). A thematic analysis (Gobo, 2008; Bold 2012) was undertaken with the ‘blog’ postings over the course of the academic year, by a cohort of 35 students to identify signs of social ties, indicators of community, developing (Haythonthwaite (2005). This data was supported by conversational and thematic analysis (Bold 2012, Denzin 2000) of two video recorded focus groups, held at the end of the year with 15 students, to evaluate the online network and its effectiveness to support student’s transition and develop relationships and community. Analysis suggested that students still stated issues of trust as being central to their level of engagement, however there was clear support for the informal and non-assessed nature of the online community. Students also spoke of an increase in their confidence to approach their assessed work.

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Depositing User: Kate Duffy


Item ID: 4423
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Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2013 10:12
Last Modified: 23 May 2023 03:30