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Broad Entrance - Vague Exit: The trajectory of Political Science students through higher education into working life
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to describe Political Science students’ experiences of studies and work life. Students’ reflections on their study situation as well as their envisaged and later experienced work life have been analysed through cross-sectional as well as longitudinal data. Central research questions are how students at the beginning and the end of their studies perceive their study program, how the communication patterns between teacher and students are negotiated, and what discourses of knowledge and competence operate in the program and in work life as well as how students of Political Science experience the transition from higher education to working life at two Euro-pean universities, and how Political science students and students in two professional programmes experience the transition from higher education to work life. The empiri-cal studies are presented in four articles. Ethnography, phenomenography and dis-course analysis have been applied. The results show that students embark on the pro-gram with dreams of being in the halls of power in Brussels or becoming famous by appearing in the media. They are, however, also driven by a Bildung incentive. Towards the end of their studies, more down-to-earth visions of the future as investigators have replaced their previous dreams. Another result is the ongoing negotiations about their role and the purpose of e.g. seminars, which convey double messages about what to say and when to contribute. They also report a rational and generic relationship between their studies and the work tasks, indicating that they have acquired a set of general skills that are helpful for them in their work. When moving from studies into work life, they report having a feeling of being squeezed between the politicians and the general public. Surprisingly, few of them regard themselves as having power in the decision-making arena.

Keywords: Higher education, Work life, Trajectories of learning, National comparisons,

Abstract [sv]

Syftet med avhandlingen är att beskriva studenter inom statsvetenskap och deras resa genom akademin ut i arbetslivet. Genom att undersöka studenternas reflektioner och tankar kring sin studiesituation och hur de ser på sitt kommande arbete genom att an-vända en undersökningsdesign som består av en tvärsnittsstudie och en longitudinell studie. Med utgångspunkt i syftet har ett antal forskningsfrågor formulerats; Hur upp-fattas utbildningen av studenter i början och slutet av sina studier? Vilka diskurser kring kunskap och kompetens återfinns i studieprogrammen? Vilka diskurser kring kunskap och kompetens återfinns i arbetslivet? Hur upplever studenter i statsveten-skap vid två europeiska universitet övergången mellan akademi och arbetsliv? Hur upp-lever studenter i statsvetenskap och studenter från två professionsutbildningar över-gången mellan akademi och arbetsliv? De empiriska studierna rapporteras i fyra upp-satser. Etnografi, fenomenografi och diskursanalys är de metoder som använts vid ana-lyserna av empiriska data.

Många studenter väljer att läsa statsvetenskap på grund av ett allmän- bildningsin-tresse, de uttrycker också drömmen om att få arbeta i maktens korridorer eller bli kän-da som experter i media. I slutet av sin utbildning infinner sig snarare en bild av en framtida roll som utredare. Eftersom studier i statsvetenskap har en rationell karaktär med fokus på generiska färdigheter är detta inte särskilt förvånande. En grupp studen-ter som följdes under sina första fem veckor i en seminarieserie fick dubbla signaler rörande sin roll vid seminarier. Relationen mellan utbildning och arbete beskrivs som i första hand rationell och generisk, dvs de har förvärvat allmänna färdigheter som är dem till stor hjälp i arbetet. När de som nya på arbetsmarknaden talar om sin identitet, framgår att de beskriver sig som klämda från två håll i sin roll som förmedlare mellan allmänheten och makthavarna. Förvånansvärt få anser att de har någon reell makt när det gäller beslutsfattande.

Nyckelord: Högre utbildning, arbetsliv, lärande, identitet, nationella jämförelser, inter-nationella jämförelser, nybörjare, erfarna studenter, professionella noviser.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2007. , 60 + appendices 1-3 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Education and Psychology, ISSN 1102-7517 ; 116
Keyword [en]
Higher Education, Work life, Trajectories of learning, National comparisons, International comparisons, Junior and senior students, Novice professionals
Keyword [sv]
Högre utbildning, Arbetsliv, Lärande, Identitet, Nationella jämförelser, Internationella jämförelser, Nybörjare, Erfarna studenter, Professionella noviser
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-9326ISBN: 978-91-85831-86-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-9326DiVA: diva2:23868
Public defence
2007-06-01, Sal 101, Hus I, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2007-07-03 Created: 2007-07-03 Last updated: 2014-10-07Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Learning to play the seminar game: Some students’ initial encounter with a basic working form in higher education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Learning to play the seminar game: Some students’ initial encounter with a basic working form in higher education
2005 (English)In: Teaching in Higher Education, ISSN 1356-2517, Vol. 10, no 1, 29-41 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper investigates students' initial encounters with the seminar as a working form in higher education. The main interest was to explore how the communication pattern, the aim of the seminar and meaning were negotiated. The results originate from an ethnographic field study where we followed a group of students in a Masters program in Social Science during their first five weeks. Data were analyzed from a socio-cultural perspective and the concepts of participation and reification. We found that there was an implicit negotiation of the communication pattern, what to discuss and the function of the seminar. In these processes, the students and teacher participated in the negotiation of meaning. Different objects were created through a reification process, around which the negotiation of meaning took place.

Keyword
Higher education, Seminar, Socio-cultural theory
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-12550 (URN)10.1080/1356251052000305516 (DOI)
Note
Original publication: Andreas Fejes, Kristina Johansson and Madeleine Abrandt Dahlgren, Learning to play the seminar game: Some students’ initial encounter with a basic working form in higher education, 2005, Teaching in Higher Education, (10), 1, 29-41. Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business Available from: 2008-09-15 Created: 2008-09-15 Last updated: 2013-09-03
2. The two Faces of Political Science Studies: Junior and Senior students' thoughts about their education and their future profession
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The two Faces of Political Science Studies: Junior and Senior students' thoughts about their education and their future profession
Show others...
2008 (English)In: Higher Education, ISSN 0018-1560, Vol. 55, no 6, 623-636 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The article reports on an empirical small scaled interview study among junior and senior students in the political science programme in a Swedish University. The aim is to describe how students at various stages of their studies conceive of their education as well as their future professional life. Questions about their identity as students have also been posed. The results indicate that a programme with a major emphasis on political science appears to have two different faces as experienced by the students. The first half of the programme is experienced as traditional liberal arts studies, i.e., the students enrol in a ‘personal bildung project’ and conceive of political scientists as a kind of watchdog for democracy. Students in the latter part of their studies report an emerging identity as investigators and civil servants and an appreciation of the parts of the studies that enhance their generic skills.

Keyword
Higher education, Political science studies, Identity, Expectations, Working life
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-14572 (URN)10.1007/s10734-007-9079-z (DOI)
Available from: 2007-07-03 Created: 2007-07-03 Last updated: 2013-09-03
3. From senior student to novice worker: Learning trajectories in political science, psychology and mechanical engineering
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From senior student to novice worker: Learning trajectories in political science, psychology and mechanical engineering
Show others...
2006 (English)In: Studies in Higher Education, ISSN 0307-5079, Vol. 31, no 5, 569-586 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This longitudinal study focuses on the transition from higher education to working life. Research has hitherto described the transition in rather general terms, and there is still only limited knowledge about how graduates construe themselves as professionals, or how they experience the transition to the sociocultural contexts of working life. In this study, the transition is viewed as a trajectory between different communities of practice. Three different Master's programmes at Linkping University are focused on and compared: political science, psychology and mechanical engineering. The specific aims are to: (i) identify aspects of identity and knowledge formation as reported by informants, both as senior students and later as novice workers with 18 months of work experience; (ii) identify features of discourses of knowledge and competence operating in the programmes and working life; and (iii) to relate the results to differences in the way the programmes are designed. The results indicate that the psychology programme prepares for working life in a rational way, that is, the generic skills and substantive knowledge acquired seem to correspond to the demands of professional work. The other programmes stand out as preparing for working life either by providing generic skills that need to be transformed in professional work, or by containing elements that mainly play a ritual role rather than corresponding to the demands of working life.

National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-14573 (URN)10.1080/03075070600923400 (DOI)
Available from: 2007-07-03 Created: 2007-07-03 Last updated: 2013-09-03
4. Learning for an unknown context: A comparative case study on some Swedish and Polish Political science students' experiences of the transition from university to working life
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Learning for an unknown context: A comparative case study on some Swedish and Polish Political science students' experiences of the transition from university to working life
2008 (English)In: Compare: A journal of comparative education, ISSN 0305-7925, Vol. 38, no 2, 219-231 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This comparative small-scale (Swedish and Polish sample) longitudinal qualitative study investigates political science students' conceptions of their studies, their future profession and their workplace learning. The students (10 in Sweden and 11 in Poland) were interviewed twice, first when they were at the end of their studies and a second time when they had worked for approximately one year. The questions asked were designed to try to understand the transition from higher education to work life. The results indicate that they bring with them a set of academic generic skills from their education when they enter working life. Furthermore, the students in the two countries have very different perceptions of the subject Political Science, and the expectations they have regarding their studies and future working life also differ considerably.

Keyword
Work environment, Work skills, Higher education, Discourse analysis, Communication Research, School environment, Generic skills, Transition from higher education to working life, Workplace learning
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-14574 (URN)10.1080/03057920701582764 (DOI)
Available from: 2007-07-03 Created: 2007-07-03

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