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Guiding the use of elearning: How do learning technologies support women returning to physical science education and training? -- 146 -- Short (oral) Paper

13:40 - 14:40 on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 in 3.204

Women are currently underrepresented in a range of science and engineering jobs at all levels (NIACE 2011). For example, only 2.5% of engineering apprentices are women. Further and Higher Education have a tradition of providing intensive courses that return women successfully to physical science/engineering studies (and other scientifically related areas). By most measures these courses and the women who pass them must be amongst the most successful, but research into how technology may support them is scarce. In addition any education research usually ignores the use of technology; any learning technology data may be technologically deterministic or, although useful, is produced as a by-product of other work (e.g. Badge et al., 2012). In quantitative studies the low numbers of women involved render the data inconclusive (e.g. King et al., 2008). Consequently, this paper addresses the following timely question: how can mature women use technology to support them in studying science? The paper then summarises the findings produced from a small qualitative study with a group of mature female Foundation Year Science students and describes how they used technology – both personal and institutional – to support them in studying science. Cognitive and affective factors will be reported along with factors that promote ‘persistence’ among women learning and working in science, within frameworks adapted from adult and lifelong learning theories. The session will highlight the need for discussion around how ‘mainstreaming’ the use of technology will necessarily mean meeting the diverse needs of all students, while highlighting some of the successful technology based strategies that have helped these students to learn effectively; indeed for learning to be, as it can be for such students truly ‘transformative’ (Mezirow, 1981). The paper concludes by asserting that we should be wary of promoting a one-size-fits-all approach and that from the particular needs of these learners, key lessons for mainstreaming technolgy use can be learned.


Hi folks thanks to those who came to the talk yesterday. Attached are the slides and notes I used, do get in touch if you'd like to discuss cos I'd really like to!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012, 12:38