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Publication Detail
Graduate transition to work: from qualifications and skills towards horizontal expertise
Abstract
The problem tackled within this thesis is that graduate expertise is commonly discussed in terms of ‘employability skills’, ‘generic and specific skills’ and ‘talent’. Most of these discussions use the terms ‘skills’ and ‘competences’ as umbrella terms to try to capture what I will show is actually a complex learning process that takes place across the boundaries of higher education and work. The main aim of this thesis is to show that there is merit in (i) introducing an explicit learning perspective into the graduate transition to work discussion (i.e. the learning dimension of graduate transition), (ii) drawing on dialectical learning models which take into account learning in the complex real world context, and historically new forms of expertise, to develop this learning perspective (i.e. the graduate horizontal expertise model) and (iii) drawing on and implementing dialectic methodology which considers the complementarities and distinctive contributions of quantitative and qualitative research to learning (i.e. the integrated mixed methods framework). In order to show that the learning dimension of graduate transition is better described in terms of graduate ‘horizontal expertise’ development and researched using the ‘integrated mixed methods framework’ I developed three interrelated arguments: (i) the substantive, (ii) the methodological and (iii) the empirical. With respect to the substantive argument, I draw on the learning perspectives (sociocultural and cultural historical activity theory) to develop a tentative framework of the learning dimension – the horizontal expertise framework. Then, with the methodological argument, I develop basic principles for researching the learning dimension using a mixed methods approach, taking into account the fundamental premises of the horizontal expertise framework. Finally, in considering the empirical argument, I conduct secondary analysis of the REFLEX and a dialogical discourse analysis of students’ experiences of doing an internship, bringing these two insights together. Finally, I revisit the substantive argument and extend and fine-tune the horizontal expertise framework, as explored through the concept of internship in light of the empirical findings.
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