In this workshop we contest two key concepts in higher education: student transitions and student voice. We present each concept briefly, and then invite workshop participants to reflect on these topics and how they play out in the context of widening participation, and in their own practice. In the last part of the workshop participants will discuss ways in which they allow for transition and diverse linguistic experiences in their classrooms.
Student transitions are a central part of higher education policy and practice internationally. However much of the work within this important area is underpinned by unquestioned and limited assumptions of what transition as a concept might mean. Moreover, too often understandings of transition defer to narratives that sustain a stereotypic understanding of students’ experiences. We discuss how we might begin to shift our understanding of the notion of transition through Meyer and Land’s theory of threshold concepts, and from the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari, to contest established understandings of students’ experiences. We propose a new approach to re-theorising and doing transition comprising three intertwined perspectives: transitions as rhizomatic; transitions as troublesome; and transitions as becoming.
A further area of uncontested work in higher education is that of student voice. Recently, the role of student perspectives in informing decisions about learning and teaching has become central in higher education. However, the active participation of design places certain demands on them in terms of their speaking and listening skills. Student voice and participation in dialogue is underpinned by and dependent upon students’ ability to use appropriate linguistic and non-linguistic resources This holds true for students from diverse linguistic backgrounds in both Anglophone and non-Anglophone contexts. We explore the competencies associated with effective communication through a skills framework which recognises the physical, linguistic, cognitive and social dimensions of oracy. We present the Oracy Skills Framework (Mercer et al, 2017) as a tool to support students’ participation in dialogue and decision making.