Enhancing Learning for Early Years Foundation Degree Students: Empowerment through Heutagogy and Reflecting on the Notion of Knowledgeable Others

Eleonora Teszenyi *, Tanya Richardson, Cristina Devecchi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Abstract This paper reports on a small-scale practitioner enquiry undertaken with 17 work-based learners studying on a two-year Early Years Foundation Degree programme in a higher education institution in England. The first aim of the enquiry was to identify the perspectives of a cohort of work-based Early Years Foundation Degree students on teaching strategies they experienced at a higher education institution in the English midlands. The second aim was to identify how the findings could be applied to curricular and andragogic enhancements for future students. Beliefs and attitudes questionnaires were administered to the students half way through their programme. Findings indicate that students valued strategies that included the direct input of the lecturers they regarded as ‘more knowledgeable others’ (Vygotsky, 1978), yet they rated peer support as less effective for their learning. Findings indicate that early years students’ applications of learned theory to work-based practice may need to go beyond a singular notion of ‘communities of practice’ (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Although these students are positioned and position themselves as more knowledgeable others in their own workplace communities, they regard themselves as lacking knowledge in their higher education community. As members of these various communities, they straddle heutagogic and andragogic approaches in their respective communities of practice. In recognition of this, the paper argues that not only should higher education lecturers working with work-based students adopt andragogic strategies but they should also promote heutagogic approaches that increase student autonomy. They should also communicate explicitly to their students the value of such strategies for learning in the field, both in theory and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24–44
Number of pages21
JournalPolish Journal of Educational Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2020


  • Early Years Foundation Degree, work-based learning, andragogy, heutagogy, more knowledgeable other, communities of practice, knowledge creation
  • work-based learning
  • andragogy
  • heutagogy
  • more knowledgeable other
  • communities of practice
  • knowledge creation


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