The troublesome nature of significant learning for UK university business school students

  • Alex Tymon

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This PhD provides new ways of thinking about the little discussed concept of significant learning for UK university business school students, based on a synthesis of published academic journal articles. These eight articles adopt a pragmatic approach to educational research, using a range of methods to uncover perspectives of educators, employers and students. They aim to explore pedagogic practice, seeking evidence of positive learning outcomes alongside barriers and challenges encountered. Individually, the outputs probe both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and span a range of topics including critical reflection, employability, leadership, proactivity and networking. When taken together, they enhance our understanding significant learning by identifying its troublesome nature for UK business students. Cumulatively, this work adds to conceptual and theoretical knowledge, whilst also highlighting implications for policy and practice.
    One contribution, to a more nuanced understanding, is that significant learning involves a complex interplay between three dimensions, namely context, content and methods. Moreover, these three dimensions are troublesome for UK business school students, both independently and when taken together. The dimensions overlap and interlink so that the troublesome nature of significant learning is magnified and questions are raised as to whether the context dimension is more dominant. These conceptual and theoretical contributions have implications for practice and policy. Intuitively, significant learning is an attractive idea for educators of business students, but the troublesome nature uncovered means practical adoption may not be easy. This troublesome nature is likely compounded by the current context of UK business schools and thus policy changes may be needed to make significant learning a reality.
    Date of AwardSept 2017
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Portsmouth
    SupervisorStephen Williams (Supervisor)

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