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What are the main challenges faced by mature students studying Healthcare courses in Higher Education? A narrative review

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

Title: What are the main challenges faced by mature students studying Healthcare courses in Higher Education: A narrative review Degree: physiotherapy Date of submission: 14th febuary 2011 What are the main challenges faced by mature students studying Healthcare courses in Higher Education: A narrative review Abstract Background and aim: From an exhaustive literature search, it would appear that the amount of peer reviewed articles in this area is still in its infancy and sparse. Therefore this review will explore relevant literature to identify, extract and evaluate current knowledge of the main issues or obstacles faced by healthcare students in Higher Education. Methods: A narrative review of literature was conducted, utilising peer reviewed journal articles that passed validity checks, utilising Casp analysis tools and that met strict inclusion criteria. In conducting the narrative review medical and associated databases, such as EBSCO, Google Scholar and Web of science were searched using key words and phrases and additionally resources from Keele University libraries and the internet were also searched for relevant material that fit the search criteria. All the available evidence was searched objectively and systematically. Results: Mature students had more financial difficulties, less social support, more relationship problems and more illness induced by stress and anxiety than traditional age students.It would appear that mature students face a war of attrition juggling familial relationships, financial constraints and coping with exams and essay writing which can result in a constant temptation to quit. Conclusions: In conclusion the research would suggest that if mature students are to minimise obstacles and challenges and fully integrate juggling multiple social roles with academic pursuits and benefit from university in the same way that younger students do, then fundamental curriculum revision, in terms of philosophy, flexibility and organization needs to take place. Key words: Mature students, issues, obstacles, challenges. Introduction The last twenty years has seen a percentage increase in mature students in higher education, not just in this country but also worldwide (UCAS 2011).

Middle

Academic insecurities were a common feature of this study, even though all had attained the entry qualifications, they still felt inadequate and did not know what to expect. First exams and essays were particularly problematic. Interestingly, the study highlighted that as the students progressed on the course these fragmented feelings of being pulled in many directions intensified, suggesting that instead of students finding a balance as the course progressed they were gradually worn down, and in essence faced a war of attrition (Fleming & Murphy 1997). This was echoed by Deary et al (2003) who found that psychological health deteriorated as the course progressed. At the time of data collection the researcher was actively teaching at the university and it could be argued that this could have an inhibiting effect on students releasing intimate details (Bowling 2009). This is offset somewhat by the strategies employed for the data collection, as the least well known to the researcher was interviewed one on one and the diary was utilized by a participant who had previously been a close colleague. This was also highlighted in the paper adding to validty as the reader is allowed to infer bias from this information. (Johnston & Waterfield 2004). A further flaw involves the lack of detail with regards to how the data was analysed. We may only infer that some type of content analysis was utilized, as emergent themes are discussed and listed, and evidence from the raw data is presented to validate themes (Mays & Pope 2000). All, but one of the research papers took place in one institute of higher education, which limits the transferability to a wider populace, however, all findings were congruent with previous research, which helps with its wider applicability (Bowling 2009) and conclusion validity (Greenhalgh 1997). Furthermore, Greenhalgh, (1997) also suggests that when assessing validity, the data interpretation should concur with common sense and the themes uncovered by the included research papers in this review would certainly slot into that pattern.

Conclusion

Findings and conclusions concur with previous literature, which Greenhalgh (1997) purports helps with conclusion validity. Lauder W, Cuthbertson P 1998 Course related family and financial problems of mature nursing students. Nurse Education Today 18: 419-425 The title and aims were clear and succinct. For the proposed aims of the study the samples and data collection methods are appropriate. The research papers' sample was adequate and appropriate to the task and the data collection and analysis techniques were also appropriate and congruent to the primary research question. They received a 69% return rate. Their findings and conclusions concur with similar studies which helps with conclusion validity (Greenhalgh 1997). Greenhalgh (1997) also suggests that when assessing validity, the data interpretation should concur with common sense and the themes uncovered in the paper, would certainly slot into that pattern. Shanahan M 2000 Being that bit older: mature students' experience of university and healthcare education. Occupational Therapy International 7 (3): 153-162 Raw data was accrued by adopting a triangulated two phase data collection strategy. A further flaw involves the lack of detail with regards to the data analysis. We may infer that some type of content analysis was utilized, as emergent themes are discussed and listed, and evidence from the raw data is presented to validate themes At the time of data collection the researcher was actively teaching at the university and it could be argued that this could have an inhibiting effect on students releasing intimate details (Bowling 2009). This is offset somewhat by the strategies employed for the data collection, as the least well known to the researcher was interviewed one on one and the diary was utilized by a participant who had previously been a close colleague. This was also highlighted in the paper adding to validity as the reader is allowed to infer bias from this information. (Johnston & Waterfield 2004) Again transferability is limited due to the study taking place in one institution In addition the findings are consistent with previous research. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1

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