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Title: What is the role of trust in the experience of mature students participating in learning in higher education in Ireland?
Author: Kirwan, Bridget Ann
ISNI:       0000 0004 5347 9625
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 2014
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Higher education is in a state of flux; the massification of the system has brought a diverse range of students, including mature students into HE, and the system is challenged to deliver education to this broad cohort in the context of diminished resources. These changes present challenges to the nature of the education relationship between the student and the education system which McElhinney (2007) suggests should be built on trust and the principle of mutual benefit. Meanwhile Ireland has been identified among the ‘laggards’ (Scheutze and Slowey 2002) in adapting to the demands of this non-traditional student cohort. This constructivist grounded theory study focused on exploring mature students’ understanding of the role of trust in their HE experience. The concept of trust which is at once complex and multidimensional (Tschannen-Moran 1997) contributes to the effectiveness of organisations (Kramer and Cook 2004) suggesting its relevance in HE at this time. My research was informed by McKnights Trust Model (1998, 2001, 2002) and Tierney (2006) and Sztompkas (1999) cultural approach to exploring the mature students experience of trust. In addition to the traditional semi-structured interview my research incorporated a visual (Pink 2003) dimension using pre-existing photographs to assist with the research process. The research has identified that HE is conceived as a place of risk for the mature students, and that the trust that is interwoven into the HE experience impacts significantly on their engagement in HE: it is fundamental to their decision to engage in HE, and plays an important role both in the relationships from which they embark on their HE journey and those that they create during their time in HE. The significant trust relationships for mature students are with others the same as them and, from a teaching and learning perspective, the trust relationship with the lecturer is very significant. The mature students were identified as ‘vigilant social perceivers’ (Sztompka 2006, p.33) accomplished in interpreting the clues as to the trustworthiness of their HE relationships.
Supervisor: James, Nalita; O'Connor, Henrietta Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Soc.Sci.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available