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Title: University life event reporting and association with career decidedness, thoughtfulness and professionalism
Author: Briggs, Steven G.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2734 2449
Awarding Body: University of Bedfordshire
Current Institution: University of Bedfordshire
Date of Award: 2011
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University students experience a range of life events whilst studying. Extensive research has established that university life events (events that are synonymous with studying) can be associated with student dropout from university. However, less is known about what university life events are experienced collectively by student ‘persisters’ (individuals who do not dropout). This study therefore sought to establish when persisters reported (and how they perceived) experiencing university life events. Between-group differences amongst students were considered. Life events have been attributed to personal change which can manifest in a number of ways, including change in career and professionalism. Understanding the associations between life events and career/professional development could serve to enhance the support that a university could provide to students in these areas. Consequently whether/when university life events were associated with students’ career thoughtfulness, decidedness and professionalism was addressed. An Interpretivist epistemological orientation was assumed and a comparative case study design was employed (involving three data collection phases). Phase one (pilot work) employed interviews and repertory grids to identify the range of events that student persisters might experience whilst studying at university; tentative between-group differences were considered. Based upon pilot work findings, three instruments were constructed, piloted and validated (phase two).These instruments addressed 1) university life event experiences; 2) career thoughtfulness and decidedness; and 3) professionalism status. Phase three (main study) involved administering the instruments quasi-longitudinally to students from two fundamentally different courses (‘professional’ (associated with a very well-defined career route and emphasis on specific professional development) and ‘generalist’ (associated with a more open-ended career route and less prescribed professional development)) at the start and end of the academic year. Result accuracy was checked through follow-up interviews with lecturers. III Trends were established between student groups in terms of what university life events were experienced and how these were perceived. Differences in reporting were found based on year group, course type and time of the academic year. Based on collective data, experiences most synonymous with specific stages of studying on a professional or generalist course were identified and are discussed. Different life events were found to be associated with enhanced or reduced career thoughtfulness, decidedness and professionalism throughout the academic year. Findings were considered holistically and an overview of how life events are associated with these areas was presented. Follow-up interviews overwhelmingly supported questionnaire findings. Explanations for findings and result applicability were considered. Suggestions for future work and recommendations are presented.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: career development ; student life events ; student retention ; L550 Careers Guidance