University of Leicester
2017masonsrphd.pdf (1.63 MB)

Capturing the Struggle: Understanding the metacognitive strategies for academic writing of mature, work-based learners at University

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posted on 2017-01-31, 16:43 authored by Sacha Rachel Mason
This longitudinal, qualitative, practitioner research study investigated the metacognitive strategies that twelve adult, work-based learners studying on a foundation degree used to undertake academic written assignments. The research lens of complexity and transformational theory provided a unique conceptual and methodological framework to explore the learning experiences of the participants over the two year period of their degree. Data were gathered from ‘feedforward’ tutorials with the learners and their assessment grades. The study articulates the challenges, evident in the learners’ narratives, as struggles. These struggles were aligned with concepts of emergence within a complexity framework and a key finding from the data is the importance of these in relation to transformational learning. Where transformational learning was evident this extended beyond the cognitive, to include emotional and social dimensions. Powerful emotional responses surrounded the struggles experienced by the learners. The study focused on professional, personal and academic identities and on the interconnectedness of nested realities where each interacts dynamically for these learners. Concepts of self-belief, self-efficacy and agency were central to this investigation into the metacognitive awareness of adult learners where motivation and purpose for learning presented as critical factors for undertaking the Foundation Degree. Academic writing strategies and the individual approaches to undertaking written assignments were analysed to explore implications for practice within universities to meet the complex learning needs of non-traditional, adult learners. The findings have informed a proposed model for an architype tutor who is specifically able to provide the particular conditions to foster transformational learning and who addresses equity and power between the adult, work-based learner and the academy.



Atkin, Chris

Date of award


Author affiliation

College of Social Science

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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