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Type: Journal article
Title: Shifting dimensions of autonomy in students' research and employment
Author: Willison, J.
Sabir, F.
Thomas, J.
Citation: Higher Education Research and Development, 2017; 36(2):430-443
Publisher: Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA)
Issue Date: 2017
ISSN: 0729-4360
Statement of
John Willison, Fizza Sabir and Judith Thomas
Abstract: This study considers the conceptual space, or extent of autonomy, given to coursework Masters students before, during and after a Business Ethics course that explicitly developed and assessed their research skills. This vocationally oriented and academically challenging course used the Research Skill Development framework as its conceptual model to reshape the learning and assessment environment, articulating to students not only the research skills required, but also clarifying the resulting autonomy in their research-orientated learning. In the study, seven students attended semi-structured interviews and transcript analysis of interviews revealed the level of student-declared autonomy before commencing coursework Masters, while completing the Business Ethics course, and near the end of their Masters degree. All of the students interviewed were studying part-time and working part-time, and so the applicability of the research skills to students’ work environment emerged as a major issue of interest. This paper richly represents the students’ perceptions, and is the first paper to directly address coursework Masters student autonomy in research in a longitudinal manner; as such it provides a deep and nuanced understanding of the conceptual space that students need for success in study and as preparation for employment.
Keywords: Coursework Masters; Masters research requirements; postgraduate; research skills; student autonomy
Rights: © 2016 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2016.1178216
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