University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Evaluation of a Cognitive Behavioural Intervention (ThinkSmart) Aimed at Encouraging Young People to Engage in Higher Education

Jackson, Emma (2013) Evaluation of a Cognitive Behavioural Intervention (ThinkSmart) Aimed at Encouraging Young People to Engage in Higher Education. PhD thesis, University of Worcester.

Emma J Jackson (2013) PhD thesis 31.07.2014.pdf - Submitted Version

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he persistent patterns of under-representation of certain social groups at higher education (HE) identified that the current strategies used as part of the widening participation agenda required revising. Outreach activities are the main strategy used by the widening participation agenda to address the under-representation of certain groups of young people such asthose from disadvantaged backgrounds at HE. owever, a shortage of robust evidence made it difficult to determine the actual mpact and effectiveness of these outreach activities. This thesis addressed this gap n knowledge by establishing robust approaches to designing and evaluating outreach activities. To achieve this, a different perspective was taken; this hesisdemonstrated howpsychology can improve the design and evaluation of outreach activities.The use of psychological theories such as cognitive behavioural herapy and attribution theory were demonstrated indevising the outreach ntervention ThinkSmart as being valuable for outreach activities. The evaluationof ThinkSmart showed a short-term practical significance, thus the intervention did have an impact on the recipients, this however, was not sustained. To support the evaluation of ThinkSmart a measure of intention to engage with HE was devised and validated, 'Students Intentions Towards University' (SITU) due to one not currently existing in the literature, despite progression to HE being a key outcome for outreach activities. To understand the effectiveness of ThinkSmart, unique to the thesis a process evaluation was undertaken to explore the implementation process. The approach showed that the components required for behavioural change were ignificantly under implemented, which impacted on the overall success of ThinkSmart explaining to some degree the small short-term gains of recipients. inally to support the development of well-designed interventions to impact on the evident disparities in the patterns of participation in HE, as well as providing a ramework for further research in this area, an ecological model of educational progression was devised. The model established the importance of the individual in understanding how best to address the objective of the widening participation; as this an explain why despite their background young people can achieve. Therefore in summary outreach activities need to consider the individual but in light of the contextual factors presented in the model. This thesis hasdemonstrated that it is important to evaluate outreach activities robustly and to do so principles ofpsychology should be incorporated to improve the design and evaluation of outreach activities, to positively impact on the likelihood of non-traditional students, i.e. those from disadvantaged backgrounds engaging with HE, addressing the widening participation agenda objectives.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the University's requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
A print copy of this thesis is available on Level 4 at the Hive.

Uncontrolled Keywords: widening participation, under-representation, young people, Higher Education, outreach activities,psychology, cognitive behavioural therapy, attribution therapy, ThinkSmart
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Divisions: Academic Departments > Institute of Health and Society
Depositing User: Janet Davidson
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2015 15:04
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2015 15:04

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