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An evaluation of United World Colleges

By Jacqueline Branson


This evaluation of United World Colleges (lIWC) explored the relationships hctween\ud the mm'ement"s aims and the processes and outcomes of learning in the colkges. The\ud purpose of the evaluation was to estahlish how cflective the colleges were in meeting\ud their aims and the factors that defined their enectivcness.\ud The research focused on the perspectives of UWC students. graduates and staff in eight\ud of the nine l UWCs internationally. Semi-structured intervie\\s provided the main\ud source of evidence in the first phase of data collection. supplemented hy student\ud journals. informal observations and documentary evidence. The second phase of data\ud collection comprised a large-scale postal questionnaire or UWC students to check the\ud validity of initial tindings amongst a larger sampk.\ud The evaluation established that lJWCs \vere effective in meeting their aims. especially\ud in relation to citizenship education. Ilmvever. \vhile it \vas apparent that the Cormal\ud curriculum was an important and orten underestimated Jactor or inlluellce. it became\ud clear that inf(xmal learning experiences were more inf1uential. These experiences \\eIT\ud related to the way in which individuals interacted with day-to-day activities and vvith\ud one another and henee much of vvhat could he understood about the cfkctiveness of\ud UWCs appeared to he rooted in how the colleges functioned as communities.\ud By exploring the cultural norms that governed communal behaviour. it was possible to\ud identify certain values and beliefs shared within and between UWCs. These \alues and\ud beliefs could be traced back to the movement's founding principles and appeared to be\ud the essence or its culture. providing the learning experiences encountered ill its\ud colleges vvith meaning and potency

Year: 2003
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