Degrees of Change: a grounded theory study of transitions between Foundation Degree and Honours degree study from students’ perspectives

  • Sam Lloyd-Parry

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    As a result of government policies, increasing numbers of students are progressing to Honours degree programmes via Foundation Degrees. Many of the existing strategies that are in place to manage transitions within higher education have been developed in response to the needs of young, full-time students accessing higher education in a traditional manner at the usual time. This grounded theory study investigates the experiences of groups of non-traditional, mature, part-time students in order to understand and explain the transition from Foundation Degree to full degree study from their perspectives. The current study uses biographical data sheets, group and individual interviews to draw on the experiences of a total of 74 participants who completed their degrees in further education colleges and in the partner university. The grounded theory that emerged suggests that a student’s experience of transition is linked to their ability to create and maintain a secure identity as a student. The findings indicate that the student identity provides a stable source of intrinsic support while encouraging adaptability to changing circumstances. An integral facet of this process is the capacity to adopt a transitional identity that emphasises the positive aspects of change and is predicated on drawing strength from coping with change. In order to present a comprehensive consideration of the data that contributed to the grounded theory, literature across a number of disciplines is discussed. The grounded theory submits that establishing a transitional identity not only facilitates the current transition but might also create a resource that could support future transitions by concentrating on the opportunities that accompany change. This should resonate with individuals undertaking transitions in different circumstances, and therefore, have application beyond education.
    Date of Award24 Oct 2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorAndrew Rogers (Supervisor), Gina Dolan (Supervisor) & Ray Higginson (Supervisor)

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