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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Legitimation of applied knowledge: the creation of a Bachelor of Technology degree at BCIT McArthur, Ann


This thesis documents and analyses a process whereby practice-based applied knowledge achieved formal legitimacy in British Columbia. The study is a historical case study representing a unique case, the creation of a Bachelor of Technology degree at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). The central research question is: What were the external and internal factors that enabled Or constrained the legitimation of applied knowledge to baccalaureate status at BCIT? The study is situated within both a theoretical and comparative context. The theoretical framework recognises the changing base of knowledge through discussion of pure and applied knowledge, knowledge stratification and its overt expression in terms of educational credentials, and the demarcation of knowledge units. A comparative backdrop to the study, traces the legitimation of applied knowledge in the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and Canada. Methods of investigation included: interviews with stakeholders representing government, the corporate sector, professional associations, and BCIT personnel, past and present; analysis of archival materials and contemporary policy documents; and, participant observation resulting from the author's intimate involvement with the process. The study concludes that this new level of legitimacy conferred on applied knowledge in British Columbia results from the convergence of factors both external and internal to BCIT, the integrative factor being "timing." Practice-based applied knowledge was elevated to baccalaureate status for the following reasons: the proposal for a Bachelor of Technology degree aligned with government's vision; government had confidence in BCIT as a degree granting institution; the political environment was "safe"; and, the approach was cost effective and accountable. Constraining factors pertained primarily to, the effects of degree granting on BCIT's valued diploma programs. Future research could investigate the impact of degree status on the diploma programs and on the overall culture of the institution.

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