4 Year Primary Degree QTS Student Survey Summer 2007

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1 4 Year Primary Degree QTS Student Survey Summer 2007 The 4 year Primary QTS degree team conducted a survey of student teachers in their final year of the 4 year Primary degree QTS. Institutions represented in the results are: St.Martin s College, Liverpool Hope University, Brighton University, Nottingham Trent University, Newman College, Trinity and All Saints and the University of Plymouth. Many thanks to those colleagues and students taking part. The survey is part of an ongoing research project to discover the strengths and weaknesses of 4 year QTS degree courses. There were simply three questions which students were asked in order to find out the extent of satisfaction with the course: - Why did you choose a 4 year course rather than a 3 year course? - What do you think have been the benefits of studying over 4 years? - Would you recommend a 4 year course to others? Why or why not? Approximately 200 replies were received. The analysis of results is presented in two ways: 1. A commentary on the general trends discovered in the students replies as discussed by the 4 year degree group on July 20 th 2007 and further interpreted by Alison Jackson, ESCalate ITE leader. 2. A rough chart of answers with numbers of responses next to them. Some students gave multiple answers which are reflected in the numbers for each response. The numbers next to each comment indicate a rough estimate of how many students mentioned this particular point, however these numbers are not totally conclusive and give an indication of importance rather than an accurate record. There are also other comments which are not necessarily highlighted as separate points. Part 1 Commentary The survey was qualitative in that it was seeking comments from students and allowing them the space to expand their answers as they saw fit. It is interesting to note therefore the large amount of overlap in the comments which allow some tentative suppositions to be made and recommendations to be suggested. The three questions proved somewhat unsatisfactory as the same comments came up in each of the three lots of answers, but a generally clear pattern of results emerged. There was overall a mixture of practicalities and ideals in the responses With respect to why students had chosen a 4 year degree rather than a 3 year degree, it was evident that the geographical location of the university and the

2 good reputation of the institution were important factors dictating choice. A lot (12%) of the respondents had had no choice between 3 or 4 years because of the choice that they had made over location and reputation. The most important factors after these were: 4 years allowed greater knowledge, understanding and experience which would lead to the formation of better teachers; there is an opportunity for more teaching practice and time in schools; there is greater opportunity to follow a subject specialism. These factors were mentioned in approximately 25% of the responses. It was acknowledged by some (10%) that a 4 year course was less rushed and therefore allowed more time for the individual to develop and others (5%) commented on the greater maturity and confidence that 4 years allowed. 9% of respondents thought that 4 years would be more attractive to employers and had appreciated the opportunity to study abroad during the course (5%). There was some (10%) support for the idea that a BA/BSc was more attractive and held in higher esteem that a BEd which, for teachers studying education is disappointing. Some answers to this question are: - The length of the course wasn t really a factor - I wanted to come to so there wasn t a choice! - The decision was based on location rather than number of years. - Because I though that I would gain more from a 4 year course rather than a 3 year I thought I would learn more and become a better teacher. - Better job prospects, more experience - The opportunity to have another teaching practice. - I felt that due to the vast demands placed on teacher today, I felt the 4 year route would enable me to gain much more in-depth knowledge and experiences. - I wanted to further my knowledge and skills in my specialist subject. The benefits of studying over 4 years were dominated by the opportunity for more school placements and time in school (50%), with greater maturity and especially confidence being mentioned by a lot of respondents (30%). Less stress and more time for assignments was highlighted by some (12%) and, despite one or two students being oblivious to any benefits at all, some (6-7%) appreciated the greater depth, knowledge and understanding of education that the 4 year degree allowed. The reasons for recommending a 4 year course to others or not overlapped with this question. By far the majority would recommend a 4 year course (75%) because of factors already mentioned such as more experience in schools, better job prospects and greater knowledge. Those who were definitely against recommending 4 year degrees mentioned problems of organisation of the courses (5%), but mostly (12%) were concerned with the debt incurred by studying for an extra year. A couple of respondents mentioned what they saw as the unfair situation whereby a PGCE student was financed for their PGCE course. The other major comment against recommending a 4 year degree (12%) was that respondents felt that the course they had followed could have been condensed into 3 years without any loss of content. A number of respondents (6%) considered the question from different angles and thought that 4 years might suit some individuals more than others and that it was down to personal circumstances and choice. Some comments from these two sections are:

3 - Better equips you for the future, more sound knowledge and understanding of education. However I feel that this course was stretched out too much and could be completed in 3 years. - The benefits do not seem obvious - the first year was almost a waste as PGCE course exists, it proves we can be teachers in a short time. - More confidence, better chance of employability, go into more depth during seminars and lectures, build up good relationships with lecturers and students. - I feel that my knowledge, understanding and skills have been developed in much more depth through first hand experiences and through the extensive lectures and seminars we have had over the past 4 years. I feel that the 4 year route demonstrates dedication to the teaching profession and shows willingness to commit to the profession through taking opportunities to develop skills further. - In the final year the placement was excellent but the modules were not particularly helpful. They just seemed to be a summary of previous modules already passed and the dissertation could have been done during the 3 rd year. I personally felt like I was just ticking boxes for my degree rather than learning anything new. The first year felt like a practice run where none of the work counted towards our degree although the subject knowledge gained was essential and very important. The year1 fragmented placement did not really give a full picture of school life or teaching and a full placement would have been much more useful. - More classroom experience and being slightly older when you graduate gives you an extra year s maturity when you start working. I would imagine it s also quite challenging to fit everything in 3 years. More input on the foundation subjects as I wouldn t imagine there would be enough time to cover these as much in 3 years. - I feel this is a sufficient amount of time to gain the necessary skills and knowledge to be an effective teacher. There is so much to learn and if the course were shorter it would be difficult and stressful. - I do not see how it would be possible to be as effective in the classroom without the current balance of the course containing subject specialism, theory, practice, subject knowledge and time to reflect on each of the above. If teaching is to be valued as a profession then we need to be in a state ready to enter the work place as professionals. It is children that gain from excellent teachers. - Sounds good at interviews and schools operate very differently so more experience the better - If a 3 year course was an option I d recommend that over this course. 4 years at university has proven to be very expensive and there is no extra financial help like PGCE course etc. - If you work at a slower rate and prefer to spend more time learning things as I do the 4 year course suits - I would recommend a 4 year route to others. I feel that it sets you in good stead to be a confident teacher, you have gained an in-depth knowledge of various curriculum areas and ooze with creativity from building upon experiences and what has been learnt. It also provides

4 the opportunity to develop upon expertise and excel within areas which the 3 year route does not give you the opportunity to do. - Some people I started the course with who only did 3 years are amazed at all the extra experience and confidence I have gained from this extra year. - my friend went to which is 3 for the same degree and her course was fine. She has less loan to pay back and has now finished her NQT year. I felt ready to teach by end of third year. - I have had extra help, advice and time to enhance my professional development and teaching skills. My Y3.4 experience has given me a lot more confidence in teaching and planning for children with SEN. I also found the fourth year of my course the best yet, giving me the opportunity to research and learn more about my specialist subject through a dissertation. The benefit of the course is definitely better understanding of my specialist subject and the added experience. - More time in year 4 for independent research and study - I feel ready to be a teacher - The fourth year is a good way of consolidating knowledge and practice and of seeking a range of extra advice Suggestions and recommendations From the results the following are possible points for institutions to consider: 1. Location is an important factor in HEI choice as is the initial impression made on such things as Open Days. 2. The reputation of an institution amongst the community is important. 3. Perks what is different about your institution which would be attractive to potential students? Opportunities to study abroad, do research, develop subject leadership, so alternative placements etc. 4. It is important to share the benefits of 4 year degrees regularly with students and involve them in the evaluation of the various elements of the course. 5. More explanation of course design could be necessary and explanation of what they require as background to become good practitioners and well rounded professionals. 6. Time in school is seen as very important, not so obvious is the relevance and importance of time in lectures. It would therefore be beneficial to explore the relevance and importance of lectures more with students. 7. The nature of assessment is important to students. 8. Fees can be a significant issue as can a feeling of the extra year being a waste. Therefore strategies to ensure perceived as well as actual value for money need to be in place. 9. The personality of the student may affect the impact of 4 years so it is not necessarily something wrong with the course. 10. Headteachers appear to view 4 years positively. 11. Students tend to think that the volume of work is the same with a 3 year degree and that it is somehow squashed. They need more information and discussion about this. 12. There are opportunities for greater depth and reflection with the 4 year degree so consider routes to Masters credits to mirror PGCE trends.

5 13. Weaker students can be encouraged in 4 years better than The results of the survey are generally positive, in favour of 4 year degrees. Part 2 Answers given (rough estimates only) 1. Why did you choose a 4 year course rather than a 3 year course? The university s reputation/ good course 27 The geographical location of the university suited best 30 No other option at the university 26 Subject specialist modules 41 Greater knowledge/understanding/experience/would be a better teacher 52 More confidence/ greater maturity 11 Leadership modules/possibilities 4 Less rushed/more time to develop 21 Extra teaching practice/school experience 42 Gain BA/BSc rather than a BEd 19 Overseas experience available 11 Job/career prospects What do you think the benefits of studying of studying over 4 years? It gives an edge at interviews 8 More placement experience 53 Good relationships with tutors and peers 7 More knowledge 6 More teaching knowledge 11 More time for assignments/deadlines 1 More experience in school 41 Subject specialisms 43 More confidence 61 Better equipped for the future 1 Less stress, more time 24 More sound knowledge and understanding if education/reflection 15 More holidays 3 More depth 15 The course could be done in 3 years 12 Not much really 1 I have no idea! 1 More debt 2 3. Would you recommend a 4 year course to others? Why or why not? Yes 166 No 48 Reasons why Experience in school 33 Increased subject knowledge 8

6 Unique opportunities (overseas, projects etc) 10 Degree title 3 More in-depth knowledge 7 Schools want more experience 8 How you can learn to be a teacher in one year is beyond my understanding/ frustrating that PGCE is only one year 2 Good experience not rushed, better prepared 6 If you are committed to teaching 5 Or if you are not sure 2 Reasons why not 3 rd Year project 3 Workload 2 Staffing issues/support/organisation of course 10 Costs/debt 23 1 st year (or 1 st and 2 nd year) counted for nothing 3 Could be condensed (particularly lectures) 23 Lose motivation 3 Yes and no reasons Yes, more experience no, more debt Not to mature students because of costs, but more prepared for a full time responsible job OK for straight from school but not for mature students If they were doing primary ed but otherwise a lot of debt but some modules weren t necessary It s a personal thing, depends how hard you are prepared to work, if you like to work slower/you need to be dedicated and not in a rush It gives the edge in an interview but could be condensed I don t see the point of paying another year s fees but I have no regrets, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time Yes if you like the student life style, but it could be condensed More depth of experience and fully prepared but it costs a lot more Yes unless you are a teaching assistant or have experience in schools and do not need as long Financially it makes more sense to complete a 3 year degree and then a PGCE and get paid for your final year that aside I feel this degree has given me the best opportunity to be effective in the classroom and given the choice again I would do the 4 year course

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