Using strength-based approaches to fulfil academic potential in degree apprenticeships

Saville, Kelly-Mae, Birdi, Gurkiran, Hayes, Sarah, Higson, Helen E and Eperjesi, Frank (2019). Using strength-based approaches to fulfil academic potential in degree apprenticeships. Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning ,


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to highlight the positive academic and professional outcomes for students who undertake degree apprenticeships which use strength-based approaches in their curriculum and assessment. The design and implementation of programmes of work-based study which focus on an individual’s inherent talents are a new lens for higher education (HE), one that enables institutions to see diverse groups of students fulfil their potential and gain academic qualifications. Strength-based degree apprenticeships offer an effective way to align the needs of industry with the ambitions of individuals who wish to gain university level qualifications whilst in the workplace. Design/methodology/approach: The research adopted a mixed-methods approach. Semi-structured interviews with stakeholders in industry and HE were undertaken and thematically analysed. Student data were analysed quantitatively for students in the degree apprenticeship programmes which incorporate a strength-based approach to learning and assessment. Findings: The findings from this study highlight that the degree apprenticeships’ strength-based curriculum and assessment have spearheaded its success. On average, degree apprentices attain 10 per cent higher grades than students undertaking the same programme through the traditional degree route. Moreover, the module design and tailored support has contributed to over 91 per cent of apprentices graduating with a 2:1 or above. Research limitations/implications: This research is exploratory in nature, focusing on one university’s experiences and outcomes regarding a strength-based approach curriculum and assessment on degree apprenticeships. Originality/value: The findings describe how the knowledge exchange and culture of the HE sector has shifted, and the university’s efforts to make progressive relationships with employers. Moreover, this paper describes the challenges in designing curricula and assessing students based on the strengths and skills required for their employment, rather than university mandated learning outcomes. The findings of this paper could influence a strength-based framework for the development of degree apprenticeships in the UK.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: Languages & Social Sciences > Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture (CCISC)
Languages & Social Sciences > Sociology and Policy
Life & Health Sciences > Psychology
Aston Business School
Languages & Social Sciences
Aston Business School > Operations & Information Management
Non-School Departments
Life & Health Sciences > Ophthalmic Research Group
Life & Health Sciences
Life & Health Sciences > Vision, Hearing and Language
Life & Health Sciences > Optometry
Aston University (General)
Additional Information: © Emerald Publishing Limited 2019 Published by Emerald Publishing Limited Licensed re-use rights only
Uncontrolled Keywords: Degree apprenticeships,Higher education,Strength-based approaches,Widening participation,Work-based learning,Education
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: https://www.eme ... BL-02-2019-0024 (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
Accepted Date: 2020-06-06
Published Online Date: 2019-06-06
Authors: Saville, Kelly-Mae ( 0000-0002-9219-5719)
Birdi, Gurkiran
Hayes, Sarah
Higson, Helen E ( 0000-0003-3433-2823)
Eperjesi, Frank ( 0000-0003-4358-0095)



Version: Accepted Version

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