The Retention of Advanced Vocational Students at a College of Further Education: A Case Study

Catterall, Julie (2003) The Retention of Advanced Vocational Students at a College of Further Education: A Case Study. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Focusing on first year Advanced Vocational students from the year 2000-2001 and drawing upon the Fairfield College experience, this thesis sets the case study within the context of existing research findings and engages with matters of current national interest as part of the wider debate about the retention of students within the post compulsory sector.

An introductory chapter focuses mainly on the local context, whilst in the following section issues and events that have arisen within the further education sector are discussed in some detail. Within Chapter Three consideration is given to existing literature and previous research, in order to elicit any relevant theory and in order to identify any appropriate models relating to student retention.

Moving on to the actual research undertaken at Fairfield College, Chapter Four focuses on 'methodology' and the research methods used. This includes comparative analysis and the triangulation of qualitative and quantitative data from various sources. Relevant findings are presented in Chapter Five with the most significant influence on retention being the primacy of course choice.

A final chapter examines the various influences on withdrawal. Findings are considered within the developing national context and are strengthened, wherever possible, by the findings of previous research. It is concluded that influences on withdrawal relate to course choice and commitment which, in turn, appear to be affected by the culture of this highly successful College. Possibilities for further research are put forward including topics such as decision making, the status of the new vocational courses, student preferences for practical courses, differing college cultures and isolation on vocational courses.

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