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Building Capabilities for Higher Education Prior to Entry Karen MacFarlane Educational Research and Evaluation Glasgow Caledonian University [email protected]

Open University International Conference 2018 18-year olds from Scotlands 20% least deprived communities are more than four times as likely to enter university as those from the 20% most deprived communities Widening Participation in Higher Education:

Scottish Government goal and central to the Commission on Widening Access (COWA) However: Few examples of what works University readiness

The capability approach asks: What does a student need to be able to do and to be (what capabilities do they need) in order to successfully make the transition to higher education? Equitable transition to HE university is dependent on key capabilities

Capabilities for equitable transition to university: Practical reason Knowledge and imagination Learning disposition

Social relations and social networks Respect, dignity and recognition Emotional health The Advanced Higher Hub

Research Question: To what extent does the study of HE level qualifications within a university environment whilst still at school foster capabilities for equitable transition to Higher Education for learners from disadvantaged backgrounds?

Methodology: Qualitative In-depth semi-structured interviews 30 university students Former Hub pupils Experiences of studying at the Hub

and subsequent experiences of the transition to and through university Findings mapped to Wilson-Strydoms list of Capabilities for Equitable Transitions to University Capability: Practical reason

Definition: Well-reasoned, informed, critical, independent and reflective choices about post-school study Findings:

Useful preparation for university; Opportunity to test out the work load and level of learning; Sitting in on lectures; Advice/guidance about course choices and applications; Confirming/disconfirming degree/career choices; Possibility of moving away from home is raised and confirmed. Well-reasoned, informed, critical, independent and reflective choices about

post-school study Capability: Knowledge and imagination Definition: Having the academic grounding for chosen university subjects, being able to develop and apply methods of critical thinking and imagination to identify

and comprehend multiple perspectives and complex problems. Findings: Research skills; Critical analysis; Presenting arguments; Problem solving; Academic writing; Exam skills; Communication skills; Collaborative working; Timemanagement; Organisational skills; Presentation skills.

Engaged learning Capability: Learning disposition Definition: Having curiosity and a desire for learning, having the learning skills required for university and being an active inquirer (questioning disposition).

Findings: A learning and teaching experience more akin to lectures and tutorials; Curiosity for learning; Desire for learning; Independent learning; Academic independence; Self-discipline; Motivation; Self-efficacy.

Learner identity as HE Student Capability: Social relations and social networks Definition: Being able to participate in groups for learning, working with diverse

others to solve problems or complete tasks. Being able to form networks of friendships for learning support and leisure. Findings Interaction with new people; Making new friends; Mingling with current students;

Moving on to university with new friends. Sense of belonging Capability: Respect, dignity and recognition Definition: Having respect for oneself and for others, and receiving respect from

others, being treated with dignity. Not being devalued or devaluing others because of ones gender, social class, religion or race. Valuing diversity and being able to show empathy. Having a voice to participate in learning. Findings:

Treated as adults, as students; with respect; Given more responsibility; Being trusted; Not having to wear school uniform, to sign in or out or to ask to go to the toilet; Being afforded associate student status; Issued with student cards and a university email address. Self-efficacy; Maturity

Capability: Emotional health Not being subject to anxiety or fear that diminishes learning. Having confidence in ones ability to learn. Findings:

Being around like-minded people; Friendly learning environment; Supportive relationships with staff, peers and current students that foster emotional health; Traveling to and from university. Acceptance; Confidence

Conclusion The study of HE level qualifications within a university environment whilst still at school fosters capabilities for equitable transition to HE for learners from disadvantaged backgrounds

Thank you

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