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How Key is Commitment? – Findings from Pilot Study

By Charlotte Young


Aimhigher is a government funded initiative, working largely within the 13 to 19 age group who have potential to\ud achieve, but are under represented in Higher Education (HE). The Aimhigher Summer Schools Analysis of Provision\ud and Participation 2004 to 2008 (March 2009, p. 5) states ‘it is intended that application and progression to HE is achieved via providing an experience of HE which encourages the learners in the target group to: reinforce a\ud commitment to learning and progression to HE’\ud In solution to a plethora of definitions of commitment in an organisational context, Allen and Meyer (1990) produced a\ud Three-Component Framework, identifying commitment in three approaches; Affective, Continuance and Normative, by\ud obtaining responses to statements using a Likert scale.\ud Affective Commitment is most desirable as employees are emotionally attached, identify with the organisation and\ud want to continue employment. “Research consistently shows that employee’s who want to stay, tend to perform at\ud higher levels” (Meyer and Allen 2004, p. 2). Employees with continuance commitment perceive a need to stay due to\ud costs associated with leaving and lack of comparable alternatives, demonstrating this is the least desirable form of\ud commitment. With Normative Commitment, employees feel a moral obligation to continue employment.\ud Following a review of organisational commitment literature and recent research, (Young 2008), a paper was presented\ud at the Forum for Access and Continuing Education conference in July. This outlined how adaptation of these\ud management models could be used to answer questions concerning, progression, reinforcement of commitment by\ud summer schools, commitment type, year group other influences whilst investigating the concept of commitment within\ud the wider context of Aimhigher and its objectives, evidencing and evaluating positive learner identity (HEFCE 2008/05)\ud and references to commitment in the Higher Education Curriculum Map (Action on Access 2008).\ud A pilot study followed, based upon Allen and Meyer’s commitment scales, used under licence from the authors Dr.\ud John Meyer and Dr. Natalie Allen in the faculty of Social Science at the University of Western Ontario. Statements\ud were produced to test the three commitment types in an educational context, for use at two residential summer\ud schools, one lead by Aimhigher for year 11 and the other by the university, for year 12. The results of the Aimhigher\ud summer school study show that there is very little difference in the commitment profile (consisting of Affective,\ud Continuance and Normative commitment), of the whole group prior to and post summer school activity. However,\ud when individual results are analysed an overall increase in Affective commitment can be demonstrated. This paper will\ud discuss these findings and make recommendations for further research

Topics: edu, psy
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