Engaging internal conversations: The interplay of structure, culture and agency, and how they affect GCSE English and Mathematics results in 16-19 study programmes

Jest, Fern (2021) Engaging internal conversations: The interplay of structure, culture and agency, and how they affect GCSE English and Mathematics results in 16-19 study programmes. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the interplay of structural, cultural and agential factors and how they affected GCSE English and mathematics outcomes in 16 to 19 study programmes in a Further Education College in the period 2014/15 to 2017/18. A social realist (Archer, 1995) conceptual framework was employed, which examined structural, cultural and agential factors and focused on individuals’ internal conversations (Archer, 2003) in order to understand attitudes and behaviours. A mixed-methods case study approach was adopted involving an analysis of quantitative data on GCSE English and mathematics outcomes and qualitative data from interviews with 10 academic staff and 15 students on study programmes within the College. A complex picture emerged from the research of the interplay between structural, cultural and agential factors shaping GCSE English and mathematics outcomes. Students’ learning experiences and individual GCSE outcomes were shaped by structural factors including government policy and funding, college policies and practices, their individual social circumstances, and by cultural messages and expectations. For each individual student, however, their engagement with learning in these subjects was also shaped by their beliefs about the value and relevance of these subjects and their perceptions of the enablements and constraints (Archer, 2003) they faced. Relationships, communication and consistency emerged as three key themes from the interviews with students and lecturers in relation to effectively engaging and supporting students. This thesis contends that structural factors, including funding and curricula, and cultural factors, including messaging, impact on GCSE outcomes. It further contends that whilst structural and cultural changes may be necessary to improve these outcomes, these need to be based on an informed understanding of student beliefs and values and the enablements and constraints they face. Students must be engaged in dialogue with educators and policy makers to ascertain how best to engage and support them in their learning.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Education and Lifelong Learning
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2022 12:30
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2022 12:30
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/84215
DOI:

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