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Title: Being a mature postgraduate student : an activity theory investigation of their study approaches and experiences using online resources
Author: Maidment-Otlet, Richard
ISNI:       0000 0004 6056 8669
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2016
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Mature students studying at master's programme level form a small but significant part of the student population in the UK. The use of online resources for study is the norm for students entering university today. However, some researchers have suggested that older students will struggle and need more support than younger students. This study investigates older postgraduates' use of online resources as they study towards their first assignments, reveals their study approaches, and applies Activity theory, where students' experiences are seen as culturally and historically situated, together with concepts of cognitive trails. The research design draws on interviews and observations over a sixmonth period, developing a series of case histories. The findings suggest that through using online resources, the locus of control shifted towards the students compared to their prior experience at university. Whilst affording them greater independence, this shift impacted trust and time resources. Their use of these resources was non-linear, drawing on knowledge accrued over time, and shaped by the decisions and choices that they made in the light of their personal histories and competing priorities from across the activity system. By understanding the assemblage of practices and components and drawing on their histories, students may be more able to use online resources in their everyday practice and imagine how they might use these resources in their future study. Collaborative support from the university and also 'hidden' support from peers, work colleagues and partners was found to be an important part of shaping the students' study approaches. This study concludes that students' study approaches and use of online resources are highly relational, interactive and personal, where contexts and support extend beyond the university and the physical campus. This contrasts with the policy rhetoric of a single 'student experience' where students' are conceived of as consumers of education.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ed.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available