To the Dissertation and Beyond: Independent Study in the New Undergraduate Curriculum


  • Patrick Ainley School of Education University of Greenwich



Over the past 30 years social changes have taken place which makes the dialogue of teachers with students as the essential preserve of the higher educational community difficult. This is not only the case for the new universities that have made the most efforts to widen participation. With the decline of industry and the expansion of services, a reformation of social class has re-designated many jobs in what has become the ‘working-middle’ of society as professional occupations requiring higher qualifications. Partly in response to this pressure for certification, many young people are leaving school and college later with supposedly higher standards but often trained rather than educated, or “over schooled but undereducated” (A. Ainley, and Allen 2010). Training to meet externally verified competences is also extending into higher education. Paradoxically, considering the hopes invested in it, new information and communications technology has not necessarily helped. While ICT allows access to a mass of information, it has also facilitated a culture of plagiarism and undermined existing expertise by multiplying the possibly verifiable criteria for new knowledge. On top of all this, academics have also often not helped themselves by designing courses which make a virtue of student choice from a range of options that may even deny the possibility of students constructing coherent conceptual totalities related to their fields of study.

Author Biography

Patrick Ainley, School of Education University of Greenwich

Patrick Ainley is Professor of Training and Education in the School of Education. His latest book,with Martin Allen, Lost Generation? New Strategies for Youth and Education, was published by Continuum earlier this year.