The impact of commercially promoted vocational degrees on the student experience

This source preferred by Richard Scullion

Authors: Molesworth, M. and Scullion, R.

http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content?content=10.1080/13600800500120100

Journal: Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management

Volume: 27

Pages: 209-225

ISSN: 1036-9708

DOI: 10.1080/13600800500120100

Exploratory focus group research with undergraduate students reveals a series of related tensions that students experience about vocational marketing and communication degrees that have been promoted to them primarily on the basis of job prospects and university location. We summarise these tensions in six themes: short versus long-term goals; academic/social life balance; time to study/work; importance of theory versus practical skills; intrinsic motivations to study versus assessment orientation; and the differing requirements of a tutor. We argue that the often intuitive choices that students make as a result of these tensions may result in their failing to engage with much of what constitutes a degree, especially scholarly activity. Although these tensions may be common to all students, we question whether some approaches to promoting vocational degrees, and the curriculum priorities sometimes given to these types of degree may influence the resolution of tensions in ways that do not encourage effective learning. Does the presence of practical aspects in the curriculum encourage or excuse the rejection of theory that is not immediately applicable to practice? Does the marketing of universities as "fun", and of degrees leading directly to employment, undermine intrinsic motivations to engage with study? We conclude by suggesting the need for reflection and responsibility in the higher education sector's promotional activities and in the teaching of vocational degrees.

This data was imported from Scopus:

Authors: Molesworth, M. and Scullion, R.

Journal: Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management

Volume: 27

Issue: 2

Pages: 209-225

ISSN: 1360-080X

DOI: 10.1080/13600800500120100

Exploratory focus group research with undergraduate students reveals a series of related tensions that students experience about vocational marketing and communication degrees that have been promoted to them primarily on the basis of job prospects and university location. We summarise these tensions in six themes: short versus long-term goals; academic/social life balance; time to study/work; importance of theory versus practical skills; intrinsic motivations to study versus assessment orientation; and the differing requirements of a tutor. We argue that the often intuitive choices that students make as a result of these tensions may result in their failing to engage with much of what constitutes a degree, especially scholarly activity. Although these tensions may be common to all students, we question whether some approaches to promoting vocational degrees, and the curriculum priorities sometimes given to these types of degree may influence the resolution of tensions in ways that do not encourage effective learning. Does the presence of practical aspects in the curriculum encourage or excuse the rejection of theory that is not immediately applicable to practice? Does the marketing of universities as "fun", and of degrees leading directly to employment, undermine intrinsic motivations to engage with study? We conclude by suggesting the need for reflection and responsibility in the higher education sector's promotional activities and in the teaching of vocational degrees. © 2005 Association for Tertiary Education Managment.

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