An exploration of degree apprentice perspectives: a Q methodology study

Khristin Fabian, Ella Taylor-Smith, Sally Smith, Debbie Meharg, Alison Varey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
49 Downloads (Pure)


Degree apprenticeships in the UK represent a shift in approach to degree-level study. As the model matures, it is important to hear perspectives of apprentices. Using Q methodology, the study aims to identify the different apprentices’ viewpoints of the apprenticeship, exploring aspects of belonging, support, challenges and views of the learning experience. Thirty-five second-year computing apprentices at a UK university participated in the study. Centroid factor analysis revealed three perspectives: aligned student-workers, busy professionals, and the cast adrift. Aligned student-workers were balancing work and study effectively, finding value in both. Busy professionals were already consolidated as professionals, using this degree apprenticeship to upskill. Finally, the cast adrift, reported a lack of support in the workplace that was affecting their view on the apprenticeship. This exploratory study, resulting in a new research instrument and approach, contributes apprentices’ perspectives to research and practice, as apprenticeship models expand in the UK and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Early online date8 Mar 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Mar 2021


  • computing
  • degree apprenticeships
  • graduate apprenticeships
  • Q-methodology
  • Work-based learning


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