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Conceptualising degree apprentice identity to enhance work-integrated learning

Rebecca Jane Quew-Jones (OSP, Faculty of Business and Law, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 26 February 2024




The study explores Degree Apprenticeship Identity (DAI) conceptualisation to enrich understanding to enhance work-integrated learning (WIL). Lived experiences of degree apprentices (DAs) are examined, and a model of DAI developed to support teaching and learning interventions on this relatively new and significant programme.


It draws pragmatically upon qualitative data from semi-structured interviews with Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship from diverse backgrounds in a higher education institutes (HEI). Data were explored abductively, using thematic analysis to investigate common patterns that influence identity; investigating personal experiences, socio-economic and cultural background, educational context and social interactions.


Influential themes surfaced, including pride in work, supporting others, sharing experiences and belonging, facilitating DAI model formation. The model illustrates that DAI is composed of existing personal, necessary professional and power of learning transformation through social identity by interventions that encourage peer engagement, group reflection and group-actualisation.

Research limitations/implications

As this is a small-scale exploratory study, it is not intended to be representative of wider populations, which results in generalisability of findings. Data were collected from a well-established closed cohort programme led by the researcher, previously programme director. Interviews generated a broad range of anecdotal evidence, surfacing valuable insights relating to DAI formation.

Practical implications

To enhance WIL, tutors can foster social interventions that encourage peer dialogue, heighten DAs sense of self as capable learners and increase confidence growth.


The research provides a DAI Model, a fresh approach to understanding ways to enhance WIL for DAs through a stronger focus on group identity through social interventions. This preliminary model presents an opportunity for further research; other apprenticeships, larger and/or open cohorts.



Quew-Jones, R.J. (2024), "Conceptualising degree apprentice identity to enhance work-integrated learning", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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