Anglia Ruskin University
2 files

An exploration of the nature of students' soft skills development in the context of experiential education in contrasting business management undergraduate courses

posted on 2023-08-30, 19:00 authored by Rod Brazier
Higher Education within the UK has been subjected to extensive change since the turn of the twenty-first century. Government intervention, massification, and the standardised measurement of institutions, has resulted in students adopting the role of consumer; seeking a tangible value from their education and a return on their financial investment. Furthermore, the widely-documented skills gap and the expanding demands of employers have prompted institutions and educators to consider a range of innovative pedagogies and programmes. This study explores a specific pedagogic method; experiential education; and the impact this active-learning approach can have upon an undergraduate’s soft skill development. It considers the intersection between contrasting higher educational programmes, employer demands, and student needs. Through a nested case study approach, this naturalistic, constructionist study utilises symbolic interactionism within a thematic analysis of qualitative data. The study explores two groups of undergraduate business management students; one traditional group, and one group of degree apprentices. Through the triangulation (Alvesson, 2003) of teacher field notes, student reflective journals and focus group interviews, the following exploration is undertaken; An exploration of the nature of students’ soft skills development in the context of experiential education in contrasting business management undergraduate courses. The study found that a range of soft skills were developed by undergraduate students through experiential education. The findings determined that soft skills were more deeply and broadly developed within students who: were afforded freedom to act autonomously; focused on experiential projects rather than merely assessments; and who were able to experientially learn, both inside and outside of the classroom. The study also concluded that degree apprenticeships are a convenient vehicle for the development of soft skills within undergraduate business management study. A set of models arise from the study, which might function as a tool for researchers and practitioners, embarking upon practice within the field.



Anglia Ruskin University

File version

  • Accepted version


  • eng

Thesis name

  • Other

Thesis type

  • Doctoral

Thesis submission date


Legacy posted date


Legacy creation date


Legacy Faculty/School/Department

Theses from Anglia Ruskin University/Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care


Accessibility note: If you require a more accessible version of this thesis, please contact us at

Usage metrics

    ARU Theses


    No categories selected