Higher Education Equity Literature Database

  • Becoming employable students and ideal creative workers: exclusion and inequality in higher education placements

    Date: 2013

    Author: Allen, K.; Quinn, J.; Hollingworth, S.; Rose, A.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: Employable student and ideal creative workers = construction through higher education work placements. Creative industries identified as key site for knowledge economies of the future, with higher education viewed as key player in terms of producing creative talent. Widening participation agenda has opened access to non-traditional students; massified student body = unmatched with graduate jobs, meaning more competition. Work placements and internships are key part of creating competitiveness for job market. Labour market research suggests unequal entry into creative workforce
    Aim: To identify the discourses and practices through which students are produced and produce themselves as neoliberal subjects (abstract), and which students are excluded through this process through the classed, raced and gendered ways that normative perceptions are perpetuated; to argue that work placements operate as a key domain in which inequalities within both higher education and the graduate labour market are (re)produced and sustained (abstract)
    Theoretical frame: Discourse (Foucault): the technologies of governance operating within work placements that cultivate students as ideal, compliant and enterprising future workers (p.434), and how they privilege particular ways of being. Creative workers = neoliberal subject par excellence: enterprising, motivated and resourceful (p.434)
    Methodology: Qualitative study of student work placements in creative sector, which authors define as as a realm in which inequalities are (re)produced (p.433), and filter students. Study funded by Equality Challenge Unit [national?], which define equality students as black and minority ethnic students, disabled students,1
    and students seeking to enter sectors with significant gender imbalance (see p.435). Methods: in-depth interviews with students (n=26) and uni staff (n=9) and employers (n=11)
    Findings: Creative workers/ students must be resource-ful: have the capacity to produce oneself and be recognised as an employable student and ideal future creative worker is dependent on having access to a range of unequally distributed resources (p.434)
    Students as self-sufficient and self-enterprising: work placements = essential/expected part of courses/ preparation for employment. Staff viewed work placements as students future employability through increasing their understanding of how to apply their learning in real-world settings, developing entrepreneurialism, and providing access to industry contacts (p.437)
    Sense among students that not organizing a work placement would damage their future careers, otherwise they are perceived as lacking or irresponsible; This only operates to discipline students to become self-managing subjects, it also inculcates an ethic of personal culpability for future labour-market success and failure (p.438). Student Bel (middle class student) described not wanting to be seen as idle, thus necessitating the negat[ion of] the presence of other responsibilities (such as part-time work or childcare) that constrain this capacity (p.438). Notion of self-sufficiency =echoed in government definition of employability. Middle class bias (in terms of being able to utilise range of resources to find/ fund a work placement) signals assumptions about students resourcefulness: networking as a mandatory practice (Lee 2011) operates as a mechanism of social closure to the creative sector (p.440), with personal contacts favoured (and placements advertised by the institution viewed as lesser). Working class students lacked access to hot/informal networks. Unpaid/ poorly paid placements = also significantly favour the middle class. Some uni staff viewed the unpaid issue as problematic; others perceived that students should be paying for the opportunity. This creates particular problems for students who are also working (see example of Carlo on p.442). Conversely, some middle class students use the unpaid issue to demonstrate commitment: the middle class have resources but, crucially, that they know how to display these in ways that accrue value (p.443).
    Self-exploitation = component of creative subject/ position
    Discussion of gendered dimension of working in male-centric industries on p.4456.
    Discussion of racialised dimension on p.4467.
    Core argument: Positioning of self as self-enterprising = classed: middle-class students were more likely to embrace this subject position of the entrepreneurial, ever-strategising go-getter (p.439) underpinned by capacity to make a choice and sense of entitlement. This notion of a good work placement = privileges middle class by ignoring the challenges for equity students (privileging get up and go)
    Authors produced toolkits for universities and students to help reduce the inequities described in the study

  • Becoming Your Best': Student Perspectives on Community in the Pursuit of Aspirations

    Date: 2014

    Author: Reid, A.; McCallum, F.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Aspirations for students living in low SES communities in context of Australian policy that seeks to increase representation of particular groups in HE. Community = issue/ impact on resources available to people. Draws on Bok (2010) and Smith (2011) to position niche.
    Theoretical frame: Appadurai: aspiration as cultural/ navigational capacity
    Methodology: Qualitative study: 5 students aged 14-15 years old from north Adelaide secondary school (semi-structured focus group discussion of community/ visual methods - photographs of local community and 'river journey' to story past, present, futures and semi-structured interviews to understand "social structures that shape lifeworlds of the participants"
    Findings: Students' futures: participants had high aspirations/ speak optimistically about the future. They view schooling as critical for pursuing dreams/ambitions.
    Community: location and relationships: geographical location and relations = significant. All participants identified something positive about people in their community as impact on their lives. Also discusses places and social spaces through which aspirations are developed. Mentions excursions to university as developing sense of place. Talks about how trust relationships with teachers helps capacity to aspire to develop (p.202). "Teachers whom the students trust offer new language and meaning to the students' future thinking which engages and motivates them in their learning" (p.205)
    Core argument: Advocates Place-Based Education (PBE) - concerned with learning connected with particular place in which it takes place; also see Place/Community-Based Education (Smith & Sobel, 2010). Suggests that academic achievement is directly linked to achieving aspirations.

  • Being a Refugee University Student: A Collaborative Auto-ethnography

    Date: 2017

    Author: Student, R.; Kendall, K.; Day, L.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: UK higher education. Student author chose to remain anonymous. Scopes familiar HE-related literature; makes point that "refugee students often experience higher education as overwhelming and alienating" and notes themes from literature: language, academic skills, excluding sociocultural practices, bureaucratic systems, finances, community/ family pressure, anxiety and mental heath (p.582). Makes note of recent advocacy work in UK (e.g. Student Action for Refugees; STAR and NUS campaign)
    Aim:
    Methodology: Collaborative auto-ethnographic approach which began through collaboration on film in Medical faculty about genocide (2 non-refugee authors = supervisors of Student R). Original idea was to recruit other refugee students but none responded to the invitation to participate. Student R wrote/ reflected on his experiences of studying at 3 different UK universities and co-authors/supervisors co-analysed his narratives. Student R recalled key event/ 'epiphany' at each institution. Analysis = grounded theory.
    Findings: Student R's narratives:
    1) Reflection of sense of fortune ("Garden of Eden") in childhood (but impoverished in material terms compared with UK). Reflects that he had lived in at least 28 different homes as part of his exile and resettlement - 'homelessness'. Education gave "a sense of order rather than engulfing chaos", p.588).
    2) Came to UK on student visa at University A. Degree = 4-year (leading to UK PR/ citizenship). Placements = competitive and he was unsuccessful (comparing himself with British peers who were successful). This rejection = deeply destabilising because he thought it would jeopardise his visa. He was shown kindness by a university staff member and was encouraged to reapply (the reason given by the employers who initially rejected him was that he posed a risk because of his nationality). He persisted and was eventually given a chance. He never disclosed he was a refugee. He later became a UK citizen.
    3) University B. Narrative starts with him expressing his hatred for the label refugee, and says he uses the term out of necessity. His status meant that he was going to be charged international fees - he was able to challenge the administrator because of his British passport, but it reminded him that the "administrative office is like a master and I only want to obey rather than face the lashes" (p.592).
    4) University C = postgraduate study. He had a breakdown because he was worried about family back in his country and a health epidemic - his supervisors were unsupportive and cruel (calling him lazy and stupid) - partly it was a response to learning that his supervisor had been a soldier in the army.
    Discussion: Relates Student R's narratives to neoliberalism and the prevailing self-surveillance/ governmentality of power dynamics in educational relationships. Prioritisation of market values = evident in the competition for placements in narrative #2; the ascription of international status in narrative #3, and the uncaring, self-interested/ abusive behaviour of his supervisor in narrative #4. The kindnesses he experienced = kind of antithesis to these neoliberal forces.
    Core argument: Authors offer a 'counter-narrative' to neoliberal forces; they claim that "we have shown how R Student's past as a survivor of genocide and forced migration; his corrosive and supportive relationships; and neo-liberal policies and practices all intersected in complex and varied ways to shape his experience of being a refugee student" (p.600).

  • Being a refugee: learning and identity. A longitudinal study of refugees in the UK.

    Date: 2011

    Author: Morrice, L.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: Refugees, settlement and education in the UK (based on Morrice's thesis). See also Morrice (2009, 2012, 2013).
    Key arguments: "While refugee communities may be rich in 'bonding' social capital, they are often excluded from the 'bridging' social capital and the learning within them which is vital for accessing wider social resources" (p.56).
    Time/ poor decision-making:
    "Because Maryam did not know the system, her son took options at sixteen which were inappropriate to his needs and her aspirations for him... Maryam describes this as a wasted year for her son; he had no interest in or aptitude for the subject and subsequently left school to find employment" (p.56).
    Family and financial responsibilities:
    "[Savalan] described his responsibility for his family as 'quite a lot of pressure' but it is a responsibility that he has carried since he set up his own business, although he found it much easier in Iran. As the only son, it is his responsibility to make the decisions and support his parents financially... The financial pressure Savalan was under increased when his two younger sisters started at university and he had to take financial responsibility for them too" (p.91).
    Transition:
    "In Alan's story we see how the processes of transition and self-reconstruction are far from linear or straightforward. Rather, it is characterised by flux and uncertainty, and an interweaving of feelings of impotence and agency, marginality and belonging" (p.105).
    Working (cash-in-hand),
    "Effectively, [Farideh], like a great many migrants, had become a circumstantial law breaker - identities and behaviour which were far from anything she could have imagined before she came to the UK" (p.110).
    'Unbecoming' through learning:
    "The refugee narratives presented here suggest that much learning is about 'unbecoming'; it is about learning what they are not, learning what is not legitimate and exchangeable, and about learning that, as refugees, they have little or no moral worth or value. They learn that from the stigmatised social position of refugee there are no socially available scripts or narratives upon which they can draw to construct and present themselves as worthy or moral beings. Instead they are engaged in a constant process of learning how to resist negative evaluations and generate distance from representations of themselves as pathological. Drawing on alternative discourses of caring, hard work, education and the good citizen, they learn how to feel and to present themselves as having value and moral worth in relation to others. Their narratives illuminate how, from the disintegration and deconstruction of self which accompanies migration, the participants learn to 'become', which in its broadest sense means they learn how to rethink themselves and live with integrity and dignity in a new social space. For all the refugees in this research, higher education in the UK was perceived as a means of constructing themselves as morally desirable and of beginning to re-build their professional identities" (p.122).
    Becoming a refugee:
    "Becoming a refugee involves managing unexpected changes in one's life trajectory and embarking on a journey to construct a viable identity and positive subjectivity in a new context" (p.129).
    "Refugees are firmly placed into symbolic structures of inequality, determining what economic and educational opportunities are available to them and limiting their access to different forms of capital. The participants were structured and positioned through mechanisms of capital transformation and trading which meant they had few opportunities to convert and trade up the capitals they possessed into symbolic capitals, and educational and employment reward... *The store of social and cultural capital which had enabled them to achieve educational and professional status in their own country was generally not recognised and valued in the UK and could not be converted into symbolic capital" (p.131-*132).
    "All of them saw higher education as a route to re-establishing a professional identity" (p.132).
    "The twin concerns for participants were to rebuild and re-establish their professional lives and identities and, closely allied, to re-generate a sense of respectability and value in themselves as moral subjects. Policy does little to support refugees in this respect" (p.136).
    Lack of recognition of prior qualifications and experiences = "the first hurdle" (p.139).

  • Being First in Family: motivations and metaphors

    Date: 2017

    Author: Luzeckyj, A; McCann, B.; Graham, C.; King, S.; McCann, J.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Despite being a growing cohort in the HE sector, FinF students remain an 'under-recognised, equity grouping with a disproportionate number encompassing low-SES, mature-aged, regional and remote, and Indigenous students' (p. 1238) (Bui, 2002; Engle, 2007; James, Krause, & Jennings, 2010). Authors highlight findings from their previous research (Luzeckyj et al., 2011) which showed that FinF students often experience educational disadvantage due to the misalignment of their cultural & social capital with that of the university. However, authors argue that despite shedding light on the expectations and experiences of FinF students' university study through their previous research (Luzeckyj et al., 2011), there is limited knowledge on the 'constraints FiF students face or what shapes their aspirations and ambitions to attend university, what factors impact on them most significantly whilst at university' (p. 1237), as well as the impact of university life on their self-identity or their extended relationships with friends and family.
    Aim: To report on the interviews which explored FinF students' understandings of their university experience, including motivations which influenced their commencement of study and factors which helped in sustaining their progress. The article focuses on students' use of metaphors to describe their university experience.
    Theoretical frame: Conceptual framework - Metaphors (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980): Allow speakers 'to open a door that cannot be opened by approaches that are too weighed down by duty to literal truth' (Bakan, 1996, p. 7).
    Methodology: Qualitative approach; Data collection method: Semi-structured, in-depth interviews (6 interviews at each institution)- students were asked to identify a metaphor (or analogy) that described their university experience; Participants: FinF students from University of Adelaide, University of South Australia & Flinders University (n=18); various disciplines of study (Eg: Arts, Engineering, Speech Pathology, Graphic Design); Exclusion criteria: Students who had left university through attrition; Data analysis:
    Findings: 1) Three main themes & 8 sub-themes identified: Theme 1 - The student [sub-themes: individual characteristics & skills; consolidation of student identity; life at university); Theme 2 - The journey [sub-themes: motivators; enablers/barriers; choosing 'what' and 'where' to study]; Theme 3 - The networks [sub-themes: 'who'; 'how'] (p. 1240).

    2)Metaphors utilised by participants of study: 'linked to travel or a journey; illustrating unknowns; and illustrative of not belonging' (p. 1242). All metaphors fit within the theme 'student', while aspects of motivation in the 'journey' theme and the aspects of 'who' and 'how' in the 'networks' theme were also evident in some responses, highlight interconnectedness of themes. A)Metaphors related to journey: Nina (35-year-old female, mother of six children) - 'start here and you've got to get to there'; Rowan (31-year-old male) - 'I think my university journey has been about, I would say it's made me a more well-rounded adult'; Marg (43-year-old female) - variation of journey metaphor: climbing a mountain; Jen (26-year-old female) - variation of the journey metaphor that involved climbing - difficult but also 'lovely' (p. 1243); B) Metaphors illustrating unknowns: Carl (19-year-old male) - ocean metaphors (with a positive outlook - 'you're always heading towards your destination'); Travis (20-year-old male) - more dramatic & negative use of ocean metaphor (calmness of the ocean disguises potential danger); Gail (20-year-old female) - 'University is like a surprise'; Alison (17-year-old female) - 'like opening a can of worms' (p. 1244); C) Metaphors about not belonging and adapting - Brendon (18-year-old male) - 'fish out of water' (showing a sense of not belonging & need to adapt); Todd - 'popping bubble' (to describe transition & learning experience); Roxie (33-year-old female) - diving board metaphor (reflects fears associated with getting started & needing a push, with changing roles between self & student); Carol (20-year-old female) - 'roller coaster' metaphor (indicates ups and downs experienced when renegotiating shift back to university life).
    Discussion: 1)Metaphors related to journey - The different descriptions of 'journey' provides some insight into students' motivations - for Nina, the journey was about the 'end point', while for Rowan, it was about 'personal development' (p. 1243); Marg's description of climbing a mountain emphasises an 'uphill, long and hard' time at university; 2)Metaphors illustrating unknowns - Carl's positive outlook on his university experience as an 'ocean' with him always heading towards his destination reflects his resilience, while Travis' negative connotation of the ocean as disguising potential danger through its calmness highlights the 'culture shock' experienced by students entering HE (Christie, Tett, Cree, Hounsell & McCune, 2008); Gail's metaphor of 'surprise' and Alison's metaphor of a 'can of worms' reflects their 'confusion of being at university', highlight the plight of FinF students who are often not sure of what to expect at university; 3)Metaphors about not belonging and adapting - Brendon's metaphor of a 'fish out of water' reflects how the process of adapting to university is very difficult, especially for FinF students, who struggle to establish and assert their 'student identity' (p. 1245); Brendon's metaphor also highlights the feelings of 'social isolation' and difficulty to fit in with the 'clique' experienced by FinF students.
    Core argument: The diversity of metaphors used by students 'provide vivid depictions of students' understandings of their lived experiences', consequently offering 'an avenue for the wider educational community to comprehend both the affective and cultural impacts that navigating the new environment of HE has on these students' lives'. These insights into motivations and struggles could be considered by university staff and policy-makers when creating guiding strategies for future students' (p. 1247).

  • Bettering Yourself'? Discourses of Risk, Cost and Benefit in Ethnically Diverse, Young Working-Class Non-Participants' Constructions of Higher Education

    Date: 2000

    Author: Archer, L.; Hutchings, M.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: Widening participation in English HE, post-New Labour election and new imposition of 50% target, viewed from perspectives of working class non-participants. Contrasts institutional position statements on WP with what is known about working-class constructions/ perceptions about HE (noting arguments that HE is viewed in alignment with employment; see argument that HE was perceived as irrelevant by working class because of job opportunities available; Metcalf, 1997). Notes work by Reay (1998, Reay et al., 2001) on classed and racialised expectations of higher education - middle class 'common sense' with relation to unequal distribution of power and access to resources
    Aim: To argue that risk and benefits of participating in higher education = unequally distributed according to social class and is therefore "more difficult and costly 'choice' for working-class students" (p.555); "to contribute to an analysis of the multiple factors underpinning 'working-class' participation in higher education" (p.556)
    Theoretical frame:
    Methodology: Draws on MORI-funded large scale mixed methods study of educational decision-making/ constructions of HE for working-class students and non-participants. Paper reports on qualitiative data collected via 14 x focus groups with 109 working-class non-participants in London aged 16-30. 10 of groups recruited from FE colleges; 4 groups = recruited from general public; these 4 = deliberately mixed by gender and ethnicity (white/ African Caribbean)/ 10 from FE = more ad hoc. 1/3 = Black, 1/3 = Asian, 1/3 = White. Most (n=72) taking Level 1 or 2 vocational courses; 16 = taking Level 3; 21 = not studying - most had left school at 16 to start work
    Findings: Participants "constructed HE aspirations, and the ability to 'get there', as mediated by the risks and costs that they themselves would experience" (p.560) - risks in terms of time, money and effort. Main benefits = family expectations.
    Participants associated few benefits with studying at university; instead seeing it as 'boring', 'hard work', 'pressure and stress' (see p.560). Some viewed university as associated with sex and drinking, but not enough to outweigh other perceived costs.
    Participants also acknowledged lack of network (that middle-class peers may have) for support. Possibility of failure = most common perceived risk, with failure "constructed in economic, social and personal terms" (p.561), and familial pressure (not letting parents down/ wasting parents' money), particularly for Black and Asian participants.
    Many participants perceived themselves as disadvantaged by mature age, FE/ vocational qualifications, money, perception of HE as middle class, white: some data "can be read as drawing on white working-class notions of territoriality that exclude ethnic-minority groups and deny them equal access to resources" (p.563) = 'racist resistance' (Cohen, 1988).
    Post-graduation perceptions: most viewed benefits of graduating at individual level = only African/Caribbean women talked about community/ national economic benefits. Many of benefits construed as 'better job opportunties' (not 'getting stuck; see p.564) and therefore 'better pay' and 'bettering oneself' and pleasing parents/ family, especially for immigrant children (See Mirza 1992 for arguments about black women in HE and Skeggs (1997) for discussion of working class women in HE)
    Some participants expressed concern about being 'overqualified in an overcrowded job market' - this discourse used more by participants who didn't want to go to university. Authors note literature that points to further disadvantage for working-class students who are constrained to attend local, less prestigious institutions.
    Participants concerned with debt
    Core argument: Young working-class people generally index dominant discourses about individual (economic and employment) benefits of HE but construct HE as "inherently risky, demanding great investment and costs, and yielding uncertain return" (p.569)

  • Between Aspiration and Achievement: Structure and Agency in Young Migrant Lives

    Date: 2012

    Author: Priyadarshini, E.;Watson, J.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: Aspirations for further/higher education of young migrants (EU-UK) in East Anglia. Review of aspirations literature; assumption = migrants carry fresh hopes and dreams when they move for social mobility and a 'better life' (p.153)
    Aim: To argue that higher education policy creates structural barriers rather than structures of support for young migrants wanting to access higher education in the UK; research project= sparked by interest in "the
    notion of whether and how these young people learn to arrive and stay" and set out to explore migrant children's sense of education identity in relation to FE and HE, to explore barriers and facilitators to considering FE and HE as potential destination. Context = change of government in 2010 and subsequent policy changes relating to HE (including fee increases)
    Methodology: Outreach project (with migrant children considered a hidden subset of low SES students = target of university's outreach activities) = called 'Broadening educational horizons for school students from central and eastern European backgrounds in Norfolk'. Project in two secondary schools, working with 40 children in Year 9&10 (age 13-15). All students = from other European countries (predominantly Eastern Europe but also Portugal). Two phases: phase 1 = focus group discussions with students and interviews with two teachers; phase 2 = university campus visit, based on data collected from phase 1 interviews. Methods in phase 1= open discussion, projection methods to visualize futures, response to visual stimuli (photos of HE and FE institutions), favourite/least favourite parts of school, scrapbooks and short survey. Post-phase 2 (campus visit), students and teachers asked to complete evaluation survey.
    Findings: Overall = mismatch between young people's aspirations and agency.
    Most students saw their futures in UK, despite strong links to home countries but 4 substantial obstacles to aspirations and potential futures:
    1) sense of low social status: most students = reticent to disclose parents' occupations; teachers view on this = most parents worked in local food processing factory and this was embarrassing for the children because their parents had higher status jobs in home countries
    2) poor psycho-social and community support = according to teachers, the parents had to travel long distances to go to work, meaning that their children were left alone for long periods of time/ didn't spend much time with parents (and often = single mother families). Issues also with parents supporting children's education because of their own low(er) levels of English proficiency: "The teachers emphasized that the educational implications of such arrangements were substantial, as children had less support than they would otherwise receive towards academic work or towards the complex, if exciting, process of adjusting to a new educational system in a new place and society" (p.155), leading to disillusionment with school for some children.
    3) schools' inaccurate assessment of students' academic potential because of unhelpful testing tools like IQ tests
    4) financial issues; teachers reported that contrary to media outcry about migrants relying on state support, many families = not aware of financial hardship support available to them (e.g. free school meals)
    Structural constraints caused by policy reduce possibilities for migrant children (stated policy intention to reduce numbers of EU citizens entering UK; reduced work rights for new EU member states like Bulgaria = all serve to fuel negative media discourses and stories). Also movement away from New Labour policy of 'community cohesion' (which used schools as tools for this end) replaced by Tory-Lib Dem coalition push for 'Big Society' (more liberalist idea of removing state supports and reaching out to community members to fill gaps) and reduced funding (such as EMA, closure of AimHigher, cutting funding for Connexions + increase in tuition fees)/ imperative for community cohesion work in schools. Structural/ policy-related constraints = financial; without EMA, families/ students unlikely to be able to afford post-compulsory education. Tuition fees = also prohibitive. Phase 2 sought to respond to lack of knowledge about student loans/ bursaries. 'Cold' knowledge (Ball & Vincent, 1998) "- and in particular their awareness or view of financial pressures - continued to shape their cultural capacity by making them resistant to 'official' information, in this case about help with student finances, that could structurally support their drive to succeed" (p.159).
    Core argument: Central/Eastern European students = 'hidden disadvantaged group'. While they certainly held aspirations for further study, capacity to realise them = structurally constrained: "Young migrant students remain uncomfortably suspended in the gulf between desires and outcomes, with government policy failing to capitalise on the vibrancy of their agency to achieve" (p.159).

  • Betwixt Spaces: Student Accounts of Turning Point Experiences in the First-Year Transition

    Date: 2009

    Author: Palmer, M.; P. O'Kane; M. Owens.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: Not belonging in first year experience/ transition studies. Scopes literature/ interest in first-year experience: "At the heart of the universities' intervention strategies is the overriding concern with retention, in which they aim to ensure that students make 'meaningful connections' to the university" (p.38). Notes assumptions made in dominant FYE literature: students are at university (on campus) (which ignores idea of liminality); transition = limited to first year; much of literature does not attend to actual experiences/ limited attention given to students' coping strategies
    Aim: To "investigate how students navigate through this betwixt space to form a sense of belonging to university life" (p.38); to argue for a more active role for liminality in accounting for students' transitions: betwixt spaces/ in-between-ness' to "feeling like fully-fledged members of university life" (abstract); to consider 'turning points' associated with students' transition, "which shapes, alters or indeed accentuates the ways in which they make meaningful connections with university life" (abstract). Their "starting premise is that often students do not immediately fit in at university but rather can be in a transient, betwixt space between home and university" (p.38).
    Theoretical frame: Liminality and turning points: "a turning point within the context of the betwixt space is put forward; that is, an event(s) or an experience(s) within the first six to eight weeks at university that both stands out and also triggers and results in the student developing (or not) a sense of belonging to university life" (p.38). van Gennep (1909) 'rites de passage': 3 stages to transition = separation (divestiture), transition (liminality) and incorporation (investiture). People move through transition = critical inflection points/ "turning points at the heart of the betwixt condition", p.41). For authors, a turning point = "defined as an event(s) or an experience(s) in the first six to eight weeks at university that stands out, and which triggers and results in the student developing (or not) a sense of belonging to university life" (p.41). Time period chosen because it is a common period for attrition
    Methodology: Interpretive methodology with 3 stages: 1) paper dialogue, introducing students to concept of transition; 2) reflect on FYE and identify/ describe a turning point; 3) whiteboard consolidation = focus group/ open discussion. 18 students on Business course (Year 1, semester 1)
    Findings:
    - Turning points
    The first lecture - students struggle with greater anonymity [implicit comparison with school??]; "the sheer size of the lecture theatre setting serves to alienate, even as its surroundings engulf the individual student" (p.44).
    The first feedback - "the bottom line coursework mentality - that which focuses almost exclusively on the mark - alarms students" (p.45); authors question how useful large/ general modules are (on pedagogical terms).
    The first doubt - "there is a period of doubt between the challenge and the adaptation to new learning approaches" (p.45); students viewed university as distant/ 'hands off'.
    - Thematic analysis (see Table 2 on p.46)
    Temporal dimension of entry = exclusionary force (for example, enrolling late/ re-entry)
    Some turning points = in control of students, some not.
    "The starting point for many of the students' turning point experiences was the tensions which arose from the pluralistic demands - competing and equally legitimate forces - within the betwixt space" (p.46)
    Relationships (particularly familial) = significant for turning points
    Coping mechanisms
    Protectionism (not sharing/ burdening others)
    Isolation
    Take frustrations out on those closest
    Relationships
    For others, "coping was achieved through familiarity with objects symbolizing the homeland - a finding we termed continuity anchors" (p.48).
    Core argument:
    - Turning points = useful for contextualising students' feelings of (not) belonging at university: "the concept of a turning point(s) can further delineate the nature of when and how the transition takes place, as well as how the social and material experiences span multiple spheres of the student's university life" and "turning point experiences simultaneously enrich and impoverish, liberate and constrain" (p.50).
    - Relationship between inclusion and exclusion = symbiotic
    - Transition = nonlinear; "Turning points are responded to in different ways, and that process is rarely smooth or linear; but rather more indeterministic rather than deterministic, and more discontinuous than continuous" and "can be subject to reversals and changes of direction; student anxieties and (mis)apprehensions resurface and are carried forward in different forms" (p.51).
    - Students talked about a metaphorical 'critical thread' which kept them in their studies; "Hanging to this critical thread, in the face of adverse turning point experiences, it seems, is a way of dealing with, belonging to, and making meaningful connections to, university life" (p.51).
    - Importance of symbolic objects ('anchors of continuance')

  • Beyond Aspirations: Addressing the Unique Barriers Faced by Rural Australian Students Contemplating University

    Date: 2015

    Author: Fleming, M.; Grace, D.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Discusses rural and remote students' transitions through ACT Experience camp (a joint venture with Country Education Foundation ((CEF)) Australia, Uni of Canberra and ANU) providing "academically able" (abstract) rural students with taster of urban/university life. CEF's mission is in part to support rural and regional communities/ young people to participate in post-school education and training. ACT Experience = HEPPP funded. Every year, 50 students (Years 9-11) travel to Canberra - students chosen on basis of 'academic ability'. Purpose of camps "to provide a unique experience relevant to rural youth who, despite performing well academically and perhaps already considering university, have difficulty envisioning themselves at university" (p.3). Camps also offer information about finances and scholarships. Discusses: adolescents' post-school decisions, rural students' views on university
    Theoretical frame: Draws on discussion of 'imagined futures'
    Methodology: Mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative). Pilot study: 41 (31f: 10m; 35 = Yr10, 6 = Yr9; 3 = Indigenous) from 5 high schools in 2012; students asked about views of university at start/end of camp (survey = demographic data, questions about future plans; students asked write down 3 words that come to mind). Words rated as positive, negative, neutral. Main study: 48 (24f: 24m; 39 = Yr10; 9 =Yr11; 3 x Indigenous) from 5 high schools. Pre/post-course surveys + focus groups 7 weeks after.
    Findings: Pilot study: 82% interested in uni before camp; 17% undecided. Students = positive words about university got more positive
    Main study: went into 2014 camp with "the intention of more accurately ascertaining students' attitudes toward university, and addressing potential barriers" (p.6), particularly knowledge of university, confidence to transition and successfully live in city. Also included parents' and friend's plans for future. Students were surveyed and had to complete reflection (various formats) of what the camp meant to them (small groups).
    Findings (main study): prior, 70% intended to go to university. Little change post camp. Focus group data themes: positive expectations/ learning something interesting; concerns about university (financial cost, accommodation/ moving away from home; students' impressions of university: most students had not seen a university before; students' changed views of university: after visiting two campuses, students were more positive; imagined selves as university students (expectations about workloads, work, friends, classes + going home at weekends); imagined selves beyond university.
    Core argument: Rural students are generally "less confident about their ability to succeed at university given their self-perceptions as being different to urban/metropolitan young people" (p.11). "[S]tudents reported (1) greater understanding of university, of their post-school options and of living in a city; and (2) increased confidence in their decision-making and in their ability to move away from home" (p.9); latter point= particularly relevant for rural/remote students. However, rural/remote students still need "assistance to believe that they can make the transition to university and (albeit temporarily) city life" (p.11).

  • Beyond cultural capital: Understanding the strengths of new migrants within higher education

    Date: 2019

    Author: Harvey, A.; Mallman, M.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: 'New migrants' in Australia. Authors scope the limitations of the broad NESB category, and point to related issues that contribute to deficit framings of new migrants (by whom they mean sfrb).
    Aims: to "examine ways that new migrant students from refugee backgrounds negotiate higher education in a context of institutional and systemic lack of recognition of their alternative capitals" (p.2-3)
    Theoretical frame: Authors work with notion of cultural capital (Bourdieu) and point to how its uptake in scholarly literature perpetuates deficit framings; Critical Race Theory (CRT); authors turn to Yosso (2005) - community cultural wealth - to explore different forms of capital (focusing on resistant, familial and linguistic capital)
    Methodology: Multi-stage project exploring "university aspirations and experiences of new migrants in low socio-economic and regional communities" (p.6). Article reports on qualitative data collection with 'new migrant' students (n=18 from Afghanistan, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Sudan, and Zimbabwe.) at La Trobe's Shepparton and Mildura campuses. Interviews covered: university aspirations and motivations; university awareness, choice and access; campus experiences, including academic and social; and graduate outcomes, particularly focussed on employment.
    Findings:
    Resistant capital: capital that challenges/ resists behaviours that promote inequality. Participants discussed frustration with low-expectations imposed on them by other students and faculty. Students talked about 'proving people wrong' in defiance of these low expectations: "the personal reassurance and heightened motivation arising from opposition to imposed racialised assumptions" (p.7). Also lack of recognition of strengths in teaching interactions; students talked about drawing on hardships as source of knowledge and strength, but in ways that are not recognized by the institution/ representatives of the institution.
    Familial capital: kinship bonds - most participants described kinship as an important motivational factor: "Most of them reported being motivated by their family trajectory, that is, the sense that their family had been through difficulties and they were now in a place where they can take advantage of opportunities" (p.9) - strong links between individual ambitions with family stories/ sense of duty to family sacrifices. Also, clear sense of wanting to give back = key source of motivation: "This type of community cultural wealth is cyclically productive" (p.10).
    Linguistic capital: bilingual (plurilingual) capital. Resolutely not recognized by universities: "Among the three types of community cultural wealth described in this article, linguistic capital is the most difficult for new migrants to realize the potential of, due to insufficient pedagogical and relational approaches within the institution" (p.10). This results in students feeling misunderstood and provoked anxiety. Authors write that there was little evidence of lecturers seeking to draw on students' multilingual resources.

  • Beyond our control? Pre-tertiary bridging program students' perceptions of factors that affect their progress with study.

    Date: 2009

    Author: Bedford, T.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Explores TPP program at USQ and students' perceptions of success factors/ factors that influenced their studies. Dropout rates of TPP students at USQ = approx. 50% from 2000-2005, leading to USQ funding study
    Aim: To explore factors impacting on students' continuation or drop out in TPP
    Methodology: Quantitative: self-report questionnaire used (n=93); Instrument developed from previous study (Taylor & Bedford, 2004) and monitored by psychologist (e.g. wording) = asked about factors relating to students' impacting on (dis)continuation with study (general environment, interaction between student and university, individual student characteristics, expectations, course design and materials).
    Findings: General environment of student (e.g. competing demands on time and advice of friends/ family) = most influential, followed by:
    - Individual student characteristics
    - Inability to remember information
    - General interaction between the student and the university
    - Feeling of not belonging to the University community
    - Course and study materials design and content
    - Not knowing what was required to obtain a pass in the course(s)
    - Individual student characteristics
    - General study-management skills, such as time-management and planning and scheduling the study program
    Common influences = time demands and ability to remember

  • Beyond the first-year experience: the impact on attrition of student experiences throughout undergraduate degree studies in six diverse universities

    Date: 2011

    Author: Willcoxon, L.; Cotter, J.; Joy, S.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Focuses on attrition and retention with second/third (post FYE) students (constituting 50% of all attrition). Explores experiences of 3 years of Business Studies across 6 universities. Located in context of Tinto's work on attrition as related to failure to integrate [not to blame students] but notes other research that highlights positive reasons for dropping out. Many authors have noted that first year students are most likely to attrit. Cites Canadian research that highlights disciplinary differences - science students more likely to drop out in first year; arts students in year 2 (Johnson, 1996). Later year drop out = influenced by interactions with staff, feedback, teaching quality, course advice and university policy/ procedures/ first year = more personal factors
    Aim:
    Theoretical frame: Not specified in study.
    Methodology: Data collection over 2 years (2008-9) in 6 unis (4 x urban; 2 x regional/ one = smallest, one = biggest). 4361 participants from S1 (2008 and 2009) in Yr 1, 2, 3 of undergraduate business degree = 10% of eligible students (2236 = Yr1; 1129 = Yr 2; 896 = Yr 3). Data collected via Whole of University Experience questionnaire with additional item asking participants to self-report likelihood to leave before completion and do you intend to change universities (to differentiate between drop out and transfer). Analysis according to 5 categories:
    - Commitment
    - Expectations
    - Support
    - Feedback
    - Involvement
    Findings:
    Different reasons for attrition according to year of study and university attended
    Year 1
    - Many items under 'commitment' = connected with drop out in Yr 1
    - Having a clear reason for studying/ destination occupation = lower likelihood of attrition for 5/6 universities
    - Majority of items under expectations = indicators of attrition for 3/6 universities
    - Approachability of teachers = significant in 5/6 universities
    - 9/16 of support items = associated with intention to leave. Sensitivity of teachers/support staff = particularly important.
    - Authors argue findings suggest "that, in a world where education is increasingly seen as a consumer commodity, their definition of 'expectations' needs to be reinterpreted so that it relates not just to academic expectations of
    - students but also to student expectations of the educational experience that will be provided for them" (p.343).
    Year 2
    - Students more likely to cite internal reasons as motivators to leave (academic confidence) rather than Year 1 = more external factors (but no evidence of relationship between emotional health and academic confidence). Lack of helpful feedback also significant.
    Year 3
    - Most of 70 items in questionnaire not related to Year 3 reasons to drop out.
    - Year 3 students base decisions on university status and reputation; "a future orientation impels students to weigh up the longer-term benefits of their university degree, and become more proactive in taking responsibility for the ultimate outcomes of their learning" (p.347). Year 3 students = focus mainly on academic confidence and teachers' support for learning
    Suggestions: Need to be cautious with results from single site research
    "When the factors related to commitment and expectations are viewed together it can be seen that, across the majority of universities, teaching staff approachability and ability to make courses interesting and challenging contribute significantly to the likelihood of first-year student attrition or retention" (p.348).
    Offer Yr 1 students access to career-interest inventories
    More attention needed to help students see how 'skills' learnt at school are built upon in Yr1 [thus assuming traditional students]
    Greater emphasis on 'guided' group work/ study buddies/ study areas for group work
    Explicitly unpack assessment criteria (co-created with other students)
    More staff to engage in development activities for effective teaching
    Yr 2 = confidence building and career identification activities
    Yr 3 = support identifying career paths/ introduction to further study paths
    But no one-size-fits-all approach

  • Blaming the victim: assessment, examinations, and the responsibilisation of students and teachers in neo-liberal governance,

    Date: 2017

    Author: Torrance, H.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: Examinations in UK schooling. Offers a historical account of assessment, with examinations in 1860s to 1960s used as educational technology to make selections about who would get to participate in further/ higher education when educational opportunities were fewer; as such "this process functioned to identify, and legitimate on grounds of educational merit, the identification of the next cohort of suitably qualified and socialised personnel for economic and social leadership roles in society" (p.84). Assessment therefore = "technology of exclusion" (p.84). Since massification of education systems, assessment = converted into 'technology of inclusion'. From social justice perspective, argument = "we need our assessment systems to identify and report what students can do, rather than what they cannot" (p.85), through explication and transparent use of assessment criteria. Alignment of neoliberal and social justice arguments, "specific technical and procedural innovations in assessment theory and practice" are needed (p.85).
    Aim: To explore "the role of assessment in relation to issues of social and political governance" (p.83); to argue that the "role, reach and discursive influence [of assessments] have expanded as education systems have expanded, and vastly increased numbers of students are exposed to the processes and consequences of assessment" (p.83)
    Theoretical frame: Foucault
    Methodology: Essay
    Findings:
    Massification and expansion of education systems (especially compulsory education) = lead to higher standards for more students with a proliferation of subjects, and 'skills' and proficiencies demanded have expanded. Education market = coupled with focus on employability and competitive economic power, so that education aligns with producing skilled workers.
    Assessment in age of responsibilisation: global project of curriculum and assessment reform to drive up educational standards. Increasing test results have led to concerns about falling standards. Author also points to equity concerns (test results and socioeconomic status), and issues with graduate employment pipeline/ credential creep.
    Examinations define the subject (e.g. history) and the 'knowing subject' (the individual student). Examinations are self-serving/ self-constituting in that "Examinations organise and legitimate knowledge qua knowledge,
    in testable form, and at one and the same time produce/endorse the fact that knowledge can be and should be tested" (p.90) = form of disciplinary power (Foucault).
    We are all "co-opted" into the project of assessment: we "have an ' interest' in examinations continuing to exist in one form or another - teachers for purposes of student motivation and classroom control; students
    and parents for purposes of credentialism and social mobility; governments to measure educational performance and control teachers" (p.92).
    Core argument: Antithesis of modern assessment regimes = collective/ collaborative outcomes, "with much more emphasis being placed on the collective responsibility of teachers, students and their peers to understand that educational encounters are a collaborative endeavour which should produce outcomes that benefit communities as well as individuals" (p.94).

  • Blurring the boundaries and re-thinking the categories: Implications of enabling education for the mainstream post-compulsory sector

    Date: 2004

    Author: Ramsay, E.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Discussion of enabling program for mature age students in UniSA (UniSA-PAL - Pathways for Adult Learners), taught in adult-entry secondary schools in SA. Looks at links between low-SES and patterns of early school-leaving (connecting to 'reproduction in education' argument - Bourdieu & Passeron)
    Aim: To explore the "unusually positive educational outcomes" (p.291) of UniSA-PAL
    Methodology: Student questionnaire in 2002/2003 to explore motivation for study, plus expectations and experience.
    Conclusions: Detail offered on success rates/ transfer rates/ students' motivation/ support. Ramsay offers suggestion that enabling programs might work better in the secondary sector/ call for better connections between secondary and higher education. "...educational disadvantage has nothing to do with lack of educational ability or potential [it has] been socially constructed by unfair and disadvantaging life circumstances, but that it can relatively easily and rapidly be reversed if the required conditions are present" (p.301)
    Core Argument: UniSA-PAL - as a preparation for university study, not just a gateway into university - encouraged students' confidence and high levels of motivation. Offers brief critique of postcode method for identifying SES

  • Bridging gaps and jumping through hoops: First-year History students' expectations and perceptions of assessment and feedback in a research-intensive UK university

    Date: 2014

    Author: Skinner, K.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: UK Russell Group context in first-year History - students' expectations of assessment and feedback on first year students' transition. Broadly set in institutional demand to focus on 'end points'. Scopes assessment literature, noting 'sustainable learning from feedback' turn in literature. 'End points' create potential disconnect between aims of programs and everyday experience of university teachers. Notes connections between assessment and accountability. Responds to Heiland & Rosenthal's (2013) call for more local studies of assessment in context. Works from author's own experience as teacher; describes own assessment regime. Notes concern with 'fuzzy criteria'. Notes differences between A-levels and emergence of neo-liberal modes of surveillance (league tables, 'performance goals') and examines similarities with higher education - focus = provision of feedback (by teachers) rather than student focus (reception of feedback). Quantitative approaches to feedback (e.g. NSS survey) = raise more questions than they answer
    Aim: To explore the first assignment experiences (writing an essay and receiving feedback). To contribute to 'transition pedagogy' (Kift 2010)
    Theoretical frame: None explicit
    Methodology: Qualitative and mixed methods: 1) survey (not massively successful); 2) interviews with A-level teachers about A-level History exam papers; 3) student reference/ focus group for design of questionnaire; 4) design of 2nd questionnaire (week 10, semester 1 - poor uptake in 2011/12, better uptake when repeated following year - but this was when tuition fees had grown to 9000GBP per year)
    Findings:
    Students in FG = critical of A-levels ('hoops you have to jump through'; see p.366)
    Differences in assessment from AS to A2 = perceived as problematic. A2 assessment = closer to university assessment
    2 main differences: volume and difficulty of reading; teacher input at the planning stage of writing (unsure of what to write, ask teacher)
    Relatively high percentage of students strongly/disagreed that A-levels = useful preparation (42% in 2011/12); students in 2012/13 = more positive (66% = strongly/agreed). Majority students = reading lists need pointers to help students get started and 87% thought teachers should look at essay plans.
    Students = sceptical of formative assessment ('unassessed essays') - not seen as useful for next writing ('essay') because = different topic. Students in FG thought comments on formative essay = need to be followed up with conversation. Timing and regularity of assessment commented on.
    Nearly 90% of both groups strongly/agreed that feedback = 'only useful if it helps you to do better next time' = "suggests that many students are hostile to summative judgements about ability within an educational setting" (p.369)
    Core argument: It's difficult to change assessment/ feedback practices, and underlying cultural and ideological roots, without changing the performance culture. Academic teachers need to develop better understandings of students' prior educational experiences so as to anticipate understandings of assessment tasks and expectations of feedback. Teachers also need to think about their own 'fuzzy criteria' which disconnect from students' previously explicit criteria (A-levels)

  • Bridging Socio-cultural Incongruity: Conceptualizing the Success of Students from Low Socio-economic Status Backgrounds in Australian Higher Education

    Date: 2011

    Author: Devlin, M.

    Location: Australia

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    Aim: Examine conceptual frames that could be used to consider [deliberate avoidance of 'measure'??] success and achievement for low SES students.
    Theoretical frame: Uses notion of socio-cultural incongruence to conceptualise differences in cultural and social capital between SES
    Methodology: Literature review
    Findings: Relates incongruence to adjustment to discourses of university (Jennifer Lawrence, see 2003; 2005); understanding v. mastering the student role (Collier & Morgan, 2008) - distinguish between students' academic skills and actual capacity v. cultural capital and demonstrated capacity = demonstrated capacity is assessed at university. University = based on 'implicit expectations' and 'tacit understandings' - lack of tacit knowledge can hinder success and achievement [relates to hot knowledge/ school background]
    Core argument: Three conceptions of deficit:
    1. Students are the problem - current Australian policy supports student deficit conception with regards to low SES [see Wheelahan, 2009]
    2. Institutions are the problem - James, Krause & Jenkins (2010) advise universities to amend expectations of students ['ideal' student??]
    3. Schools/ preparatory institutions are the problem = pointed to but not discussed
    Socio-cultural incongruence: points to [predictable] literature on 'non-traditional students' (UK/US studies predominantly) - universities are alien environments (Bamber and Tett, 2001), 'other'/marginal positions (Read, Archer and Leathwood, 2003), academic discourses in context of diverse student body (Northedge, 2003). Recommends 'joint venture' between students and universities and other institutions (schools/TAFEs)

  • Bridging the gap: supporting student transitions into higher education

    Date: 2010

    Author: Leese, M.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: Experience of students transitioning into HE (post-1992 university with WP commitment) in the UK in the early moments (first weeks) of their studies. In particular, study considers working lives of students and impact of workload on their experiences of transition. Scopes literature on 'new student' (Leathwood & O'Connell, 2003; Haggis, 2006) and issues with transition (FYE and transition literature)
    Aim: To consider whether = 'new student' in modern UK HE (see Haggis, 2006)
    Theoretical frame: Bourdieu's habitus and cultural capital - based on assumption that if student's cultural capital = recognised, they will transition more easily
    Methodology: Mixed methods - mainly qualitative. Online questionnaire for snapshot of first 6 weeks (n=180) - thematically analysed for interview schedule for focus groups (n=25)
    Findings:
    70% of students= working while studying and spent minimal time on campus (only 30% spending 15 hours+ on campus)
    27% reported difficulties finding time to study
    18% = academic language = challenge
    53% spend free time with friends from outside university
    Students' expectations: data from questionnaire and focus groups = concern with not having academic language (p.244-5)
    Many students = uni not what they expected (fears not realised)
    A number of students needed help with computers bc expectation that they would be confident with technology
    Anxiety at highest when students feel they cannot ask questions
    Core argument: Higher education needs to view induction/ transition as a process and a shift is needed in perception of 'appropriate student support' for diverse student body

  • Building bridges: understanding student transition to university

    Date: 2012

    Author: Briggs, A.; Clark, J.; Hall, I.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Set in context of UK higher education transitions. Makes case that transition = underexplored
    Aim: To explore challenges faced 'in ensuring effective student transition'; to offer a model of process of transition; "to enhance institutional learning across the transition 'bridge', to provide conceptual thinking and to offer guidelines for university personnel seeking optimal conditions for effective transition and learner success" (p.4). Scopes literature on transition (e.g. Tinto, 1987) and on student expectations, encouraging potential students, student diversity, learner identity, university support systems, learning and teaching in higher education
    Theoretical frame:
    Methodology: Draws on two sources of data: international literature and data collected from two studies at University of Newcastle (UK): 'Bridging the Gap' project (Briggs et al., 2009) = case studies of 4 transition programs and interviews with students and staff at school, FE colleges and HE students + questionnaire/ 'Exploring Transition' (Clark & Hall, 2010) - online questionnaire of all first year students (n=1222) + focus groups
    Findings:
    Themes: Early and up-to-date information = influences student aspiration for university positively. Good communication needed. 3 main types of preparation/outreach program: generic, focused, pedagogical [discipline-oriented]. Support needs to be targeted for students who could not attend visits, individual attention, consistency in staffing and support, enthusiasm and encouragement.
    Conceptualisation of transition through modelling (focuses on factors under university control) - relating to learner identity formation. Model = non-sequential - some elements "may reinforce each other and some processes may need to be repeated" (p.15). Factors =
    - personal contact;
    - multiple opportunities;
    - clarity of structure;
    - apposite information;
    - accessibility of people and curriculum;
    - purposeful liaison;
    - awareness of the individual within the process
    Implications for practice: While students are in school, they benefit from receiving information, encouragement and one-to-one support. This necessitates close contact and communication via educational levels.
    Core argument: Development of learner identity = central to successful transition into higher education. Individual attention = important: "Even within the organisational web of school, college and university liaison which is necessary for student transition to higher education, both primary and secondary data in this study have shown that this human touch is possible: the challenge to those managing university systems is how to achieve it" (p.18)