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Being a student on a part-time Early Years degree

Hughes, Anne and Menmuir, Joan (2002) Being a student on a part-time Early Years degree. Early Years, 22 (2). pp. 147-161. ISSN 0957-5146

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This paper offers a critical examination of the student experience of a new part-time degree in Early Childhood Studies. The current Scottish Executive emphasis on encouraging lifelong learning through improved access, extended participation and the provision of opportunities for progression has created a climate where studying part-time while continuing to work is receiving active government support. The degree examined in this paper offers Early Years staff the opportunity to continue their personal development as they work and it fits well with the increasing recognition of the need for a more valued and qualified workforce in Early Years. Data on student experiences was collected at the end of the first calendar year of the course through structured student evaluation of the modules delivered and through student responses to a 'Support for Learning Agenda'. The agenda was used twice during the year to encourage reflective comment about ongoing participation in the course and also as the basis for discussion with a personal tutor. Results from the two sets of data highlighted the complexity of balancing work, personal and study commitments in part-time study. The issues which emerged for discussion and further investigation included expectations of the learning environment, the difficulties of making transitions from one type of learning environment to another and a number of issues related to combining study and work. The paper concludes by considering the implications for policy and practice.