• Learner identities in the context of undergraduates: a case study

      Lawson, Alison; University of Derby (Taylor and Francis, 2014-09-10)
      Background This paper examines the idea of learner identity of marketing undergraduates in the light of the widening participation agenda and identifies the challenges faced by those who enter HE by non-traditional routes. Purpose The research investigates the links between marketing students’ learner identities and their socio-economic backgrounds, previous experience of education and subject choice. It is hypothesised that marketing students, having selected a degree in a specific business discipline, are aware of employability issues and may be committed to their learning, leading to stronger learning identities than those evidenced in the literature about similar post-1992 universities. Sample The sample is all undergraduate marketing students at a University in England (the pseudonym UE is used throughout). The total available population was 135 and, of these, 99 completed the questionnaire. Non-UK students were excluded from the sample and one part-time student was excluded. This resulted in a total of 83 completed questionnaires for analysis. A sample of six self-selected students participated in follow-up interviews. Design and methods The primary research consists of a questionnaire administered to undergraduate marketing students and follow-up semi-structured interviews with a small number of students. The interviews examined issues in more depth and sought individual narratives of educational experience, with particular regard to the study of marketing and future employment and examined whether subject choice was in any way affected by previous educational experience, family background or ideas about employability. Results Links between learner identity and socio-economic background, educational experience and subject choice are shown. Nearly half the sample is shown to have positive learner identities but no link was found between subject choice and students’ thoughts on employability. Conclusions One should not presume students at lower-ranked universities to have poor learner identities as they may just be different, given their backgrounds and expectations, or actually be very strong. One should not presume that students of business disciplines are necessarily more focused on employability than other students.