Foundation degree learning: an educational journey of personal development

Helena Herrera, David Brown, Jane Portlock

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The foundation degree is an intermediate-level qualification designed to widen participation in higher education while providing work-related skills and knowledge. It has a vocational focus and a pedagogic approach that integrates academic and work-based learning. Research into opportunities and the process of learning within foundation degrees is limited, particularly that which looks in depth at personal development occurring within these courses. This study contributes to the literature in this area, reporting on the results of a case study of the foundation degree in medicines management (University of Portsmouth). A key finding of this work was that knowledge was gained within a community of practice, and led to students’ development as individuals. Motivation, learning to learn and guidance and feedback, alongside peer learning within the course, were central aspects of this process. The learning and personal development taking place resulted in increased awareness, confidence and empowerment in students, which was reported to influence their work and personal lives. However, the development of specialist work-related skills and knowledge was found to be limited, questioning the fitness for purpose of the course researched. While key aspects of the subject investigated have been described in this work, further research is needed to understand this complex phenomenon.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)839-861
JournalJournal of Further and Higher Education
Issue number6
Early online date14 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2015


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