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Open Access Interest, learning, and belonging in flexible learning programmes

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This paper expounds a dynamic understanding of interest, including cognitive and affective dimensions. This conceptualization of interest is applied to findings from research in two flexible learning settings that provided access to foundation-level credentials for young people who, for whatever reason, had disengaged from or sought alternatives to traditional schooling models. The discussion of findings begins with an outline of how interest played out in the two programmes, before examining how interest was related to learning and to belonging. In relation to learning, interest acts as a motivator, draws on short- and long-term goal relevance, and enhances academic achievement. In relation to belonging, interest serves to build in-group connections through shared identity, but also acts as a platform for launching enhanced connections with the wider community. We conclude that interest is about more than curriculum relevance for individuals, and holds significance for both learning and belonging. This may inform approaches to education not only in flexible learning programmes but also in conventional schools.

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Keywords: ALTERNATIVE SCHOOLS; BELONGING; ENGAGEMENT; FLEXIBLE LEARNING PROGRAMMES; GOAL RELEVANCE; PERSONAL INTEREST; SHARED IDENTITY; SHARED INTEREST

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 May 2016

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  • The only journal of its kind, the International Journal on School Disaffection is an international, peer-reviewed journal that provides a forum for multi-disciplinary dialogue about influences and outcomes relating to school disengagement, low attainment, and early school leaving. The journal is open to a wide range of perspectives: sociological, historical, philosophical, psychological, criminological, and educational. Its priority is to support work that seeks to engage and re-engage children and young people and to develop critical and scholarly debate around school disaffection.
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