To what extent does structure and voice in Access level curriculum improve the learning experience of widening participation students’

Curry, George and Butcher, John (2020). To what extent does structure and voice in Access level curriculum improve the learning experience of widening participation students’. In: Broadhead, Samantha; Butcher, John; Davison, Ellie; Fowle, Wendy; Hill, Mike; Martin, Louise; McKendry, Stephanie; Norton, Francis; Raven, Neil; Sanderson, Bernadette and Williams, Steven Wynn eds. Delivering the Public Good of Higher Education: Widening Participation, Place and Lifelong Learning. Peterborough: Forum for Access and Continuing Education, pp. 91–106.

Abstract

The UK Open University (OU) offers a part-time Access Programme (Level 0) through distance learning. The programme is presented twice per year and lasts 30 weeks. The OU has an open entry policy, and consequently the Access Programme is designed with the needs of particular students in mind: adult learners who lack confidence and may have been out of education for many years, and who may also have low prior entry qualifications. It is additionally worth noting that a far higher proportion of OU Access students come from ‘disadvantaged’ backgrounds, and have characteristics
associated with widening participation (the UK term for learners from
under-represented groups) than enter the OU at undergraduate level. The programme’s purpose, therefore, is twofold – to deliver on the OU’s social justice mission by opening up access to higher education for students who come from groups that have traditionally been excluded, and to prepare those learners for higher education. The programme seeks to achieve these key objectives by preparing students to succeed and helping them to develop the skills to progress to undergraduate study.

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