Experiencing learning across academic‐practice boundaries; An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Human Resource Management practitioners engaged in part‐time postgraduate study

Charlton, Helen (2016) Experiencing learning across academic‐practice boundaries; An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Human Resource Management practitioners engaged in part‐time postgraduate study. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Human Resource Management (HRM) is a contested academic discipline and professional space, in which mid‐career entry is not uncommon, and where study and professional membership are often key to career advancement. Subsequently, engagement with study while working full‐time occurs frequently, commonly at postgraduate level. However, understanding of the student‐practitioner experience is limited due to recognised gaps around research of part‐time, taught postgraduate and mature student experience. This is an odd omission given that it represents a potential growth area following recent funding changes. This study explores these experiences in the context of constellations and landscapes of practice, focussing on issues of social identity theory and academic literacies within them.

Utilising Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis to explore reflective accounts of the lived experiences of five practitioner‐students in one Higher Education (H.E.) Institution, the study used an innovative focus group approach, combined with semi‐structured interviews. Analysis was conducted through the development of case vignettes alongside thematic analysis supported through NVivo.

For all participants studying occurred during career transition, with studying for additional qualifications intended to validate this transfer. However, in the wider personal context of career and family, study had significant impacts, with complex negotiations involved around obligations to family and employers. Participants legitimised their membership of HRM communities though their wider practice experience. Practice experience was also used to delineate between other members of both their academic and practice communities, with individuals who demonstrated experience given preference. Participants’ experience of education was characterised by comparisons between academic and practice communities, and negotiation of the boundaries between them was constant. Strength of practitioner identity affected alignment and approaches to studying. Engagement with discourse was also heavily influenced by dominant practitioner discourse patterns.

This study offers insight into particular experiences of H.E. which may align to other niche student cohorts, and contributes to closing the gap around knowledge of part‐time, postgraduate and mature student experiences. It further adds to knowledge of communities of practice, constellations and landscapes and maps an example. It provides insight into how such students negotiate academic discourse engagement, and the impact balancing study with employment has on approaches to learning. Lastly, it applies this understanding to the support of practitioner‐students learning across academic‐practice boundaries, making recommendations to those facilitating these experiences.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Mature students, communities of practice, student approaches to learning, student identity
Subjects: X300 Academic studies in Education
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2017 10:55
Last Modified: 22 Sep 2022 09:45
URI: https://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/32303

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