Open Access

Peer-reviewed

Research Article

Main Article Content

Caroline Sarah Jonescorresponding author
https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9899-5058

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to examine the new concept of, ‘psychosocial and academic trust alienation theory’; the potential influence of self-concept, self-esteem and trust as barriers to student engagement. The study was conducted in a Higher Education University campus located within a 16-19 year old Further Education Institution.A constructivist epistemology, underpinned by symbolic interaction theory utilising a mixed methods approach formed the research design. The sample population were students enrolled at the participating institution and employed teaching staff. Quantitative surveys were completed by 39 students, supported by two qualitative staff focus groups and one qualitative student case study to examine an outlier result. Findings suggest 87% of the student participant sample aligned with the ‘psychosocial and academic trust alienation theory’. Barriers to student engagement were; specific classroom and assessment activities, relationships with teaching staff and peers, staff absences and staff turnover, all having a significant impact on students’ psychosocial and academic trust. The contribution of this research to the field of Higher Education is three-fold; firstly, findings support the ‘psychosocial and academic trust alienation theory’, secondly it provides insights into the psychological barriers to engagement for the Widening Participation student demographic, thirdly it proposes practical strategies for supporting Widening Participation students in Higher Education. Recommendations for practice include i) counselling, coaching and mentoring support from teaching staff, ii) initiatives to reduce staff turnover and sickness, iii) social pedagogical teaching approaches, iv) teacher training, and, v) peer based learning opportunities to cultivate communities of practice. These strategies could strengthen Widening Participation student’s psychosocial and academic trust, thus reducing barriers to student engagement in Higher Education, contributing to increased social mobility success rates in the United Kingdom and beyond.

Keywords
higher education, widening participation, student engagement, alienation theory

Article Details

How to Cite
Jones, C. (2021). An investigation into barriers to student engagement in Higher Education: Evidence supporting ’the psychosocial and academic trust alienation theory’. Advances in Educational Research and Evaluation, 2(2), 153-165. https://doi.org/10.25082/AERE.2021.02.002

References

  1. Jones CS. Barriers to Student Engagement in HE: Revisiting Concepts of Alienation, 2017. http://www.celt.mmu.ac.uk/ltia/Vol12Iss2/2_Jones_barriers_to_student_engagement_in_HE_revisiting_concepts_of_alienation.pdf
  2. Mann SJ. Alternative Perspectives on the Student Experience: Alienation and Engagement. Studies in Higher Education, 2001, 26(1): 7-19. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070020030689
  3. Jones CS and Nangah Z. Higher education students: barriers to engagement; psychological alienation theory, trauma and trust: a systematic review. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education, 2020, 25(2): 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603108.2020.1792572
  4. Augar P. Chair, Post-18 Education and Funding Review Panel: Independent panel report to the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding. Crown Copy Right, 2019. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/805127/Review_of_post_18_education_and_funding.pdf
  5. Bronfenbrenner U. Preventing Alienation: Alienation and the Four Worlds of Childhood. The Phi Delta Kappan International, 1986, 67(6): 430-436.
  6. Tarquin K and Cook-Cottone C. Relationships Among Aspects of Student Alienation and Self- Concept. School Psychology Quarterly, 2008, 23(1): 16-25. https://doi.org/10.1037/1045-3830.23.1.16
  7. Caglar C. Development of the student alienation scale (SAS).Egitim ve Bilim-Education and Science, 2012, 37(166): 195-205.
  8. Caglar C. The Relationship between the Levels of Alienation of the Education Faculty Students and Their Attitudes towards the Teaching profession. Education and Science, 2013, 13(3: 1507-1513.
  9. Barnhardt B and Ginns P. An alienation-based framework for student experience in higher education: new interpretations of past observations in student learning theory. High Education, 2014, 68: 789- 805. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-014-9744-y
  10. Gibbs P. Competence or Trust: The academic offering. Quality in Higher Education, 1998, 4:1: 7-15. https://doi.org/10.1080/1353832980040102
  11. Hawley K. Trust, Distrust and Commitment. NOUS, 2014, 48(1): 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1111/nous.12000
  12. Davis SE and Dargusch JM. Feedback, Iterative Processing and Academic Trust - Teacher Educations Students’ Perceptions of Assessment Feedback. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 2015, 40(1): 177-191. https://doi.org/10.14221/ajte.2015v40n1.10
  13. Ennen NL, Stark E and Lassiter A. The importance of trust for satisfaction, motivation, and academic performance in student learning groups. Social Psychology of Education, 2015, 18: 615-633. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-015-9306-x
  14. Hoon CH and Geertsema J. Fostering community, building trust, and navigating risks in academic development. International Journal for Academic Development, 2016, 21(3): 163-165. https://doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2016.1203572
  15. Vignoles A and Murray N.Widening participation in higher education. Education Sciences. Education Science, 2016, 6: 13. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci6020013
  16. Case J. Alienation and engagement: development of an alternative theoretical framework for understanding student learning. High Education, 2008, 55: 321-332. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-007-9057-5
  17. Walker J and Crawford K. Social Work and Human Development. Exeter: Learning Matters Limited, 2010.
  18. Schaffer RH. Social Development. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2000.
  19. Heffernan T, Wilkins S and Butt M. Transnational higher education The importance of institutional reputation, trust and student-university identification in international partnerships. International Journal of Educational Management, 2017, 32(2): 227-240. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEM-05-2017-0122
  20. Kharouf H, Sekhon H and Roy SK. The components of trustworthiness for higher education: a transnational perspective. Studies in Higher Education, 2015, 40(7): 1239-1255. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2014.881352
  21. Mcmurrin SM. The Tanner Lectures on Human Values. Ethics, 2011, 20(2): 175-177. https://doi.org/10.5840/idstudies199020213
  22. Connell-Smith A and Hubble S. Widening Participation Strategy in Higher Education in England. House of Commons Library: Briefing Paper 8204, 2018. http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-8204/CBP-8204.pdf
  23. Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Higher Education: Students at the Heart of the System, 2011. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/31384/11-944-higher-education-students-at-heart-of-system.pdf
  24. Department for Communities and Local Government. (2015) National Statistics: The English Indices of Deprivation 2015. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/ 465791/English_Indices_of_Deprivation_2015-Statistical_Release.pdf
  25. HEFCE. (2016) Equality and Diversity Data 2016. http://www.hefce.ac.uk/data/year/2015/eddata
  26. Crotty M. The Foundations of Social Research. London: Sage Publications, 2012.
  27. Denscombe, M. (2011) The Good Research Guide (4th Edition). Berkshire: Open University Press.
  28. Mackenzie N and Knipe S. Research Dilemmas: Paradigms, methods and methodology. Issues in Educational Research, 2006, 16(2): 193-205. http://www.iier.org.au/iier16/mackenzie.html
  29. Cohen L, Manion L and Morrison K. Research Methods in Education, 7th Edition, Oxon: Routledge Falmer, 2011.
  30. JISC. (2020) Online Surveys formerly BOS. https://www.onlinesurveys.ac.uk
  31. Opie C. Doing Educational Research. London: Sage Publications, 2004.
  32. BERA. The British Educational Research Association, 2017. https://www.bera.ac.uk
  33. Bryman A. Social Research Methods (4th Edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.
  34. Golafshani N. Understanding reliability and validity in qualitative research. The Qualitative Report, 2003, 8(4): 597-606. http:/www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR804/golafshani.pdf
  35. Data Protection Act 1998. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/29/pdfs/ukpga_19980029_en.pdf
  36. Data Protection Act 2018). https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2018/12/contents/enacted
  37. Abdulai R and Owusu-Ansah A. Essential Ingredients of a Good Research Proposal for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Students in the Social Sciences. SAGE Open, 2014, 4(3): 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244014548178
  38. Yorke M and Longden B. Retention and Student Success in HE. Berkshire: Open University Press, 2004.
  39. Neville L. Do Economic Equality and Generalized Trust Inhibit Academic Dishonesty? Evidence from State-Level Search Engine Queries, 2012, 23(4): 339-345. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797611435980
  40. Carless D. Differing Perceptions in the feedback process. Studies in High Education, 2006, 31(2): 219-233. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070600572132
  41. Crozier G, Reay D and Clayton J. The socio-cultural and learning experiences of working class students in higher education. University of Sunderland, 2008.
  42. Younger K, Gascoine L, Menzies V, et al. A Systematic Review of evidence on the effectiveness of interventions and strategies for widening participation in higher education. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 2019, 43(6): 742-773. https://doi.org/10.1080/0309877X.2017.1404558
  43. Crosling G, Thomas L and Heagney M. Improving Student Retention in Higher Education. Oxon: Routledge, 2007. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203935453
  44. QAA. UK Quality Code for Higher Education: Assuring and Enhancing Academic Quality, 2016. http://www.qaa.ac.uk/assuring-standards-and-quality/the-quality-code/quality-code-part-b
  45. HEFCE. National Student Survey, 2018. http://www.hefce.ac.uk/lt/nss/results
  46. Grace S and Gravestock P. Inclusion and Diversity: Meeting the Needs of All Students. Oxon: Routledge, 2009. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203890387
  47. QAA. Student Engagement, 2018. https://www.qaa.ac.uk/quality-code/advice-and-guidance/student-engagement