Will it be Worth it and Was it Worth it
: Expectation Through to Evaluation (A qualitative study of the holistic impact of post-graduate professional body accredited study on the students’ life-story)

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Purpose: The aim of this research is to address the problem statement: In order to improve evidence based strategic decision making and deliver on Excellence in Teaching and Learning commitments, there is a need to uncover, explore and understand student expectations and evaluation of their postgraduate professional course.

Design/methodology/approach: An inductive approach was taken in the research, with pragmatic design decisions as to how best to address the research questions. As a result, there were four phases to the primary research: Phase One involved 23 students completing a questionnaire; Phase Two involved 10 students participating in semi-structured interviews; Phase Three involved content analysis of portfolio, covering an entire year group of 21 students; Phase Four involved five focus groups, comprising a total 27 students.

Findings: A vast range of motivations, experiences and evaluations of the course were identified. This revealed the extent of personal as well as professional imagined futures; the interplay between identity, confidence and efficacy during the course; and the holistic understanding of cost, benefit and value from the student’s perspective. It also showed how the initial expectations ‘Will it be worth it’ align to the final evaluation of ‘Was it worth it’.

Research limitations/implications: The sample is limited to participants who studied at Huddersfield on post-graduate CIPD accredited courses. However, the aim throughout the research is to use this specific data to draw out more generalizable findings. Practical implications: Twenty-three detailed recommendations have been produced with consideration of impact, implementation challenges, cost, responsibility, timing and priority.

Originality/value: Three original models have been developed in the course of the research and these could be applied to similar courses, and courses at differing levels. The models could also be used to facilitate conversations to better understand students and provide a provision that speaks to their needs and an evaluation process that both feeds decision making and captures the full value from the course. The multi-method approach, the rationale and use of phases and the inclusion of life-story are all methodological innovations and contributions.
Date of Award27 Sep 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorHayley German (Main Supervisor) & Kay Smith (Co-Supervisor)

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