Student as consumer? Competing constructs of student identity

Goddard, Paul and Hylton, Patrick (2014) Student as consumer? Competing constructs of student identity. In: International Congress of Applied Psychology (ICAP) 2014, 8-13 July 2014, Paris, France.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


Abstract: Background:- The Higher Education (HE) White Paper Students at the Heart of the System (June 2011, England) aimed to put the undergraduate experience at the heart of the system (p4). This endorsed a marketisation of HE in which courses become products that can be purchased as any other commodity, the buying of which redefined the student experience in terms of student as consumer. However, other competing Top-down notions of what it means to be a student have also emerged such that “consumer” can be replaced with any of the following to create 12 similes of the form “Student as ______”:- partner; customer, product; employed; partial employed; producer; university citizen; teacher; active partner. Further to these claims can be added community of learning and apprentice (Kay et al, 2010); Reader (as in I read Psychology) and Gym Member where Universities supply the apparatus and the student 'works-out'.

Aims:- This study used a Bottom-up, Repertory Grid Technique (RGT), to find out how identities of being a student were constructed by students.

Methodology:- The RGT elicited the personal constructs of participants (undergraduates n=60) of “what it meant to be a student” using the 12 similes. The analysis was based on triading. The stimulus products were presented in sets of three and participants had to think of a property or quality that makes two of these ideas about being a student alike and discriminates it from the third idea. This resulted in a similarity-dissimilarity judgment. By forming different triads out of the pool of similes and repeating the process, the participants elicited a number of bipolar constructs. These were analysed using qualitative, content analysis to be readied for subsequent quantitative factor analysis (hierarchical Cluster Analysis).

Results/Discussions:- Botha (2009) argued that metaphors matter in education, while Lakoff & Johnson (1990) argued that metaphors (similes) create realities for us, especially social realities. Co-opting these notions to apply to similes of being a student, advocates that such similes do more than give us a way to conceptualise a pre-existing reality. As such, the extensive use of similes in terms of defining what being a student is, is even more an attempt to construct a social reality.

Keywords:student as consumer
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C880 Social Psychology
L Social studies > L110 Applied Economics
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
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ID Code:16872
Deposited On:04 Mar 2015 14:39

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