Transnational students’ accounts of processes of networked learning : a phenomenographic study

Casey, Dearbhla and Sime, Julie-Ann (2017) Transnational students’ accounts of processes of networked learning : a phenomenographic study. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Globalisation of higher education has led to an increase in the delivery of transnational programmes, those where students are located in a different country than the providing institution. These programmes are marketed as offering the same degree at the same quality standards as that delivered onshore and often the specific context or place of learning is not considered. Literature on the student experience of learning in this setting is sparse. This study addresses this gap by exploring accounts of students’ processes of networked learning on two transnational Masters programmes delivered by an Irish college in the Gulf region of the Middle East. Processes of learning are theorised using two frameworks: the approaches to learning framework; and the model of networked learning. Data is generated through interviews with 18 students. Findings show two key qualitative differences in the phenomenographical outcome spaces. Firstly, between descriptions focused on academic skills (searching literature, reading, writing) and those focused on ideas (analysing, synthesising, critiquing). Secondly, between descriptions of engagement in the act of networked learning and descriptions of non-engagement, classified as either ‘unable to engage’ or ‘unwilling to engage’. The categories of description at the lower levels of complexity in all outcome spaces are not explained well using either theoretical framework. These findings have a deeper alternative explanation when both the transnational and the individual’s contexts are taken into consideration. Conclusions are drawn for theory, methodology, policy and practice. For theory, an amended definition of networked learning is suggested which allows for the multiple contexts within which learning takes place. For methodology, it is suggested non-inclusive hierarchical structures in outcome spaces are appropriate for phenomenographical studies of the processes of learning. Finally, the notion that transnational programmes can be delivered ‘context-free’ is challenged which has implications for institutional policy and educational practice within higher education.

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31 Jul 2017 15:24
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 05:39