Lifelong learning; economic, social and cultural change experienced by educational support staff

G. Goddard, L. Dunne, C. Woolhouse

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

This paper draws on Bourdieu's theoretical framework of habitus to explore shifts in economic, cultural and social capital for a group of teaching assistants who had gained a Foundation degree in supporting teaching and learning. Graduate teaching assistants were invited to respond to a postal survey that asked questions about the impact of doing a vocational degree on personal and professional lives. This was followed up with case study life-history interviews. Whilst there were personal benefits stemming from studying for the degree, such as a perceived increase in self-confidence, economic shifts were limited and in some cases non-existent. Several respondents indicated that they had increased responsibility without the accompanying pay, suggesting a form of potential exploitation. There appeared to be a failure of employers to recognise the degree as a higher education qualification. The research also exposed the personal challenges and hidden 'costs' involved in vocationally driven lifelong learning. In particular, the female teaching assistants experienced a powerful conflict between fulfilling their professional aspirations and their responsibilities towards their families and dependents. This conflict was seen as detrimental to the learning experience and sometimes deterred further study. The absence of change in economic capital suggested that the apparent enticement of people to 'earn and learn' to advance their careers could actually represent a false presumption. This paper calls for a more candid acknowledgement of the complex and shifting positioning of teaching assistants and the potential personal benefits and sacrifices involved in studying whilst working.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2008
EventEuropean Educational Research Association (EERA) European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) - Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: 8 Sep 200812 Sep 2008

Conference

ConferenceEuropean Educational Research Association (EERA) European Conference on Educational Research (ECER)
CountrySweden
CityGothenburg
Period8/09/0812/09/08

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    Goddard, G., Dunne, L., & Woolhouse, C. (2008). Lifelong learning; economic, social and cultural change experienced by educational support staff. Paper presented at European Educational Research Association (EERA) European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), Gothenburg, Sweden.