Intriguing differences in the "types" who choose school or college post-16 emerged in the work of Karen Glanville, a research student at Greenwich University, who is exploring new methods of studying FE student attitude and behaviour.
She asked students from school sixth forms and colleges in London and Cornwall to record a week in their lives, using a disposable camera. The students then compiled photographic diaries of events they thought best described their experiences.
Pictures and captions became cues for further questions, taped and analysed alongside the students' scrapbooks. Karen Glanville compared experiences in colleges and sixth forms in rural and urban areas.
FE sudents proved either to be "workers", who took mainly photographs of themselves studying, or "players", who filmed social settings. Sixth-formers were much more likely to combine their work andsocial lives in a balanced way.
For urban London students, photos reflected greater concern with part-time employment or social life than with their education. In rural Cornwall, the students' social life was based almost exclusively in and around school or college.
"Very often the main focus of a 17-year-old's life is not A-levels. One of the London students did not take a single picture at college," she said.
Students on GNVQ courses in all institutions formed a more cohesive group than A-levelstudents. Such research couldbe used for rethinking the way courses and classes are organised in college, FE researchers say.