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Navigating Learning Outcomes: tensions and potentials in media HE in Ireland

McCormick, Irene (2015) Navigating Learning Outcomes: tensions and potentials in media HE in Ireland. EdD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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This research explores the experiences and views of education professionals around the learning outcomes (LOs) approach to education currently prevalent in higher education (HE) in Ireland. LOs have been used to help manage education and enhance teaching and learning in HE over the last decade. Their influence has grown rapidly in line with the rising impact of the Bologna Process in guiding European higher education. This thesis focuses on media education and the opinions of teachers, managers and teaching and learning ‘experts’ regarding LOs. In total 17 individuals were interviewed between December 2012 and June 2013. Data was gathered using semi-structured interviews. Touraine’s ‘Sociological Intervention’ was employed to draw different actors’ issues together. The computer programme NVivo 10 was utilised to manage and help analyse the data within a CDA construct. The research revealed that LOs are complex representations of learning and the goals of education and are not mere statements on a page. LOs provoke and signify the type of tensions that are possible between individuals playing different roles in HE; such as managers and teachers. But they also show divergence between different institutions in how they concern themselves with certain processes and values in HE; like, for example, the struggle between oversight and autonomy. The research also revealed that LOs can represent potential and opportunity. Some readings of the outcomes approach regarded LOs as engendering fairness in that they are transparent, offer clarity and can signify a democratic approach to education. Managers tended to support LOs as a positive input into teaching and learning in this study whereas coal-face experiences had led teachers to be less enthusiastic about writing and using LOs, rather opting for a strategic use of them in their work. The research concludes that LOs as concepts are at times divisive and often come to signify the divisions between schools of thought; those who find them to be a representation of the continued marketization of education and the embodiment of managerialism and ‘quality’ in HE and those who feel they epitomise a certain conception of democracy in their begetting of fairness and transparency.

Item Type: Thesis (EdD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Education (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.635408
Depositing User: Ms Irene McCormick
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2015 11:35
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 12:09
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/8142

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