The experiences of part-time students in civil engineering compared with those of full-time students

J.W. Davies

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    This paper presents the results of two studies of part-time undergraduate students of civil engineering at Coventry University. The first (presented in summary as the details are published elsewhere) involved scrutiny of data; a questionnaire to allow comparison of factual information on part-time and full-time students; and interviews with part-time students and graduates. The study confirmed that part-time students outperformed full-time students, and identified that the greatest advantage came from the skills, attitudes, and motivation that part-time students have developed in the workplace. The main focus of this paper is a follow on study involving two indepth interviews with students who had particularly interesting perspectives on the contrast between the experience of part-time and full-time students. One had studied part-time, but had transferred to full-time for the final year of the course, whereas the other had studied full-time, and transferred to part-time for his final year studies. The student who changed from part-time to full-time appeared to have lost self-discipline when he moved away from a professional environment, whereas the student who changed from full-time to part-time, appeared to have acquired it, together with increased motivation arising from seeing more clearly the practical applications of the taught material and the reasons in career terms for taking the course. Although part-time study does not suit everyone (a point that is explored in the paper), the case studies reinforce the central finding of the earlier study: that the main factor causing part-time students to outperform full-time students overall is the influence of their professional employment the fact that they adopt a ‘workplace attitude’ to study.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


    • full-time study
    • part-time study
    • motivation


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