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Title: An investigation into the extent to which a transnational university partnership develops students in the manner predicted by the contributing institutions' graduate attributes
Author: Mahon, Dominic
ISNI:       0000 0004 7660 9955
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2018
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The aim of this research is to investigate student development in the context of a transnational higher education partnership to deliver a foundation program between a Russell group university in the UK and a recently established university in Kazakhstan. It is argued that there is a crisis in the higher education sector internationally whereby the value of a degree is decreasing while the cost of obtaining a degree is increasing and that communication by universities of the purpose and value of a degree is a contributing factor to this crisis. It is further argued that the context of this research is of interest given the strategic importance of Kazakhstan on the New Silk Road and the continuing expansion of the internationalisation of higher education. This research uses mixed methods and is divided into three discrete but complementary studies: Study 1: An investigation into the development of graduate attributes, capabilities and their predictors. This study is quantitative and longitudinal in nature and uses a survey instrument administered at two points, the beginning and end of the academic year. Study 2: An investigation into the perceptions of student development from the perspective of teaching and administrative staff working on the foundation program. This study is qualitative in nature and uses in depth interviews. Study 3: An investigation into student experiences and perceptions of their own development of graduate attributes, capabilities and their predictors. This study is qualitative in nature and uses group interviews with student participants of study 1, to both confirm and explore the findings from the previous two studies. The results indicate that participants in the overall study, both students and staff, do not have a fixed conception of the institution of the university. However, there was consensus between participants in the three studies over certain qualities that individuals develop whilst at university, which include critical thinking, openness and maturity. Changes in capability and graduate attributes, as measured by the survey instrument in this study, were correlated. An unexpected finding was that the only significant changes in capability were decreases in those capabilities connected with stress and affiliation. Exploration of this finding in the third study revealed that the nature of the foundation year itself, in that it is a pass or fail hurdle for entry to the university, may be responsible for the decreases in capabilities. Participants in study 1 also registered a significant increase in the personality trait of conscientiousness. This trait aligns with graduate attributes associated with organisational skills and autonomy. Analysis of the data set revealed that intrinsic motivation (such as a desire to study as an end in itself) and stress are important predictors of the development of graduate attributes. However, students entering the university are largely motivated by extrinsic factors (predominantly connected to future employment) and over the course of the foundation year, levels of intrinsic motivation decrease and stress increase. There are two principal conclusions arising from this study. Firstly, students do develop in the manner perceived by students and staff. This is in line with the intrinsic notion of the benefits of the university as described in general by graduate attributes. Secondly, how students develop can be predicted by the analysis of variables including intrinsic motivation and stress. It may be the case that the extrinsic motivation of students observed in this research is a product, at least in part, of the direction universities are taking and the crisis in HE described earlier. The measurement of student development should be an important step not only in the mitigation of this crisis through allowing for the promotion of the intrinsic value of HE, but also in predicting where students may encounter obstacles to their development.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LB2300 Higher education