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Students' views of their aspirations in a flexible-rigid architecture programme in Mexico City: a case study

Pantoja Ayala, Hector Hugo (2014) Students' views of their aspirations in a flexible-rigid architecture programme in Mexico City: a case study. PhD thesis, UCL Institute of Education.

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Abstract

This research is concerned with the aspirations -goals, hopes and desires- of architecture students. The twenty eight students investigated studied in a student-centred, problem solving programme based upon multi-disciplinary work in Mexico City. Most participant students’ mid-level education was in teacher-centred pedagogies. Despite the importance of Bourdieu’s capital volume concept –reading, museum visits, knowledge of the arts, listening to classical music, educational qualifications, parents’ studies and jobs, prestige, as well as social connections- little empirical research has been conducted using this concept in relation to that of educational codes and with that of aspirations, within sociology and much less within architectural research. Educational codes, in Basil Bernstein’s theory, are the principles that through the curriculum, pedagogy and evaluation of a degree programme shape a student’s views. The research purpose is to identify what generates some students’ dissatisfaction with the flexible or student centred and problem solving pedagogy. The thrust of the thesis is to show how students’ previous educational codes, their capital volume along with the blurred expectations the social system offers to them builds their aspirations (subjective experiences) and how these influence the choice of their priorities that in turn define their advancement in a flexible-rigid architecture programme. Each participant was investigated and analysed as case study on three stages of her/his higher studies. Data were collected through a combination of open interviews, sentence completion questionnaires, observations and school records. Students’ answers were analysed to find patterns in the interconnection of their personal and contextual factors impinging on their educational trajectory. Each student’s capital volume was defined to locate them in Bourdieu’s representation of the social space to gain insight of their nearness and farness to satisfy material and symbolic needs (objective conditions). The students' responses were analysed using Bernstein’s constructs of classification (power) and framing (control) to identify their orientations to meaning and learning. Students with higher levels of economic capital have lower levels of cultural capital than students in less favourable objective conditions. The thesis demonstrated that students with higher levels of economic capital, or in favourable objective conditions, but with scarce cultural capital are more oriented to things than to people and delayed his/her educational trajectory more than the students in less favourable objective conditions. The patterns of interconnections between students’ objective conditions, orientations and marks were made explicit introducing a language of description from the sociology of aspirations. A language of description is understood as a language necessary for making the tacitly constructed explicit “in a non-circular way” (Bernstein, 1996: 135-136). Three levels of cultural, educational and professional aspirations drawn from literature in the field were combined to conceive students’ aspirations level. The thesis demonstrated that students in higher social positioning have lower aspirations levels and lower performance than those in lower social positioning. In the last type of students excellent or very good performance replicates. Students whose previous educational codes were less flexible than that of the architecture programme held low aspirations levels and dysfunctional cultural principles (codes). Students who studied high school in a flexible educational process learn to prioritise their goals, becoming more realistic, open to accept ambiguity and diversity. Students identified strategies for improving the teaching-learning process some of which is outside of the design studio. The research contributed in a methodological and conceptual nature by explaining, in a non-circular way, how the interconnection of architectural students’ previous pedagogic codes, their objective conditions and subjective experiences influence their learning in a flexible-rigid educational context.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Controlled Keywords: Students, orientations, aspirations, capital volume, flexible, codes
Subjects: Departments > Culture, Communication and Media
Depositing User: Mr Julian Zerfahs
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2015 12:42
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2015 15:18
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