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‘Unearthing, uncovering and understanding’. Entwining ethnography with practice theory and constructivist grounded theory to explore HE teacher practice enactments in an FE landbased college.

‘Unearthing, uncovering and understanding’. Entwining ethnography with practice theory and constructivist grounded theory to explore HE teacher practice enactments in an FE landbased college.

Rapley, Eve ORCID: 0000-0002-7672-6129 (2017) ‘Unearthing, uncovering and understanding’. Entwining ethnography with practice theory and constructivist grounded theory to explore HE teacher practice enactments in an FE landbased college. In: Oxford Ethnography and Education conference, 12th September 2017, Oxford University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Purpose

To discuss an innovative ethnographic, qualitative methodology designed to explore and uncover how and why HE in FE (higher education in further education) teachers enact their HE pedagogic practices in the ways that they do. As part of this, this includes exploring the impact of the specific educational setting (the site) and how its cultural and socio-material aspects can impact upon pedagogic practice.

In the light of an amplification of interest in the concept of practice and practice theory within international education and teacher research, this paper articulates the journey taken by the author towards developing a novel ethnographic methodology to explore HE pedagogic practice within a group of HE in FE teachers at a UK landbased college. Given the under-theorised nature of HE in FE teacher pedagogic practice, this methodology is inspired by both practice theory and grounded theory as a means of generating insights into both the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of particular HE pedagogic practice enactments at the case study college.

Design/methodology/approach

An in-depth and immersive ethnographic single case study using site walks, multiple classroom observations, informal ‘hanging out’ with students and staff, in-depth intensive interviews, and informal interviews with staff and students to uncover teacher HE pedagogic practices and the reasons behind them.

Adopting notions of practice as espoused by Kemmis and Grootenboer (2008) and their theory of Practice Architectures and Charmaz’s Constructivist Grounded Theory (2006), this paper describes the rationale for developing a methodology where a conceptual lens of practice is employed, together with an outline of the challenges of developing the methodological framework, and the methodological framework itself.

Findings

The physical setting, material/non-human objects, the practical ‘hands-on’ nature of the discipline (animal/equine and veterinary nursing), the nature of the students, the management culture and the demographics and experience of the teacher participants all played a role in shaping, enabling and constraining HE teacher pedagogic practice enactments.

Research limitations/implications

The HE pedagogic practices of HE in FE teachers is arguably both under-researched and under-theorised. Indeed, extant HE in FE literature pays scant regard to HE teacher pedagogy and actual practice enactments of those teaching HE within the FE college sector. With 1 in 10 students studying HE within an FE college in the UK, this research is timely and will contribute to strengthening the evidence base regarding HE pedagogy within FE colleges.

Practical implications
The paper will provide specific methodological information to enable other teachers and researchers to use and adapt the methods in any educational setting as a means of exploring and understanding how teachers’ pedagogic practices are formed and, significantly, how practices can changed in order to enhance staff and student teaching and learning.

Social implications

Many students studying HE in FE tend to be from more marginalised and/or disadvantaged groups i.e. mature, widening participation, students who have not been labelled as a ‘success’ at school. The majority of HE in FE tends to be Foundation Degree level with an emphasis on vocational subjects. This study helps to shine a light upon these groups of students.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Lecture)
Uncontrolled Keywords: practice theory; FE in HE; college HE
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Educational Development Unit
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2021 16:56
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
Selected for REF2021: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/30674

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