Vortrag | Inequality in Higher Education | 14.11.2017
Vortrag von Prof. Dr. Sarah O‘Shea (University of Wollongong, Australia)
Die Veranstaltung findet am
Dienstag, den 14. November 2017 von 12:30-14:30 Uhr
im Teaching Center (TC 4.18) der WU statt.
Aus organisatorischen Gründen bitten wir höflich um Anmeldung bis zum 07.11.2017 unter firstname.lastname@example.org.
Investigating conflicts and freedoms in the higher education environment: Unpacking the capabilities and capitals of first-in-family learners
“It’s very much like moving to a foreign country where you don't speak the language”. The quote above is from an interview with Marilyn, a 31-year-old first year undergraduate student, undertaking a Business degree. Marilyn was the first in her family (including her partner) to attend university and while she had completed high school, had been out of education for over a decade. As Marilyn’s statement indicates her journey to university was somewhat challenging, not least of which was her perception of being a traveller in an alien environment. Within Australia, where this study occurred, first-in-family (FiF) learners comprise over 50% of the HE student population and research indicates that this cohort is at greater risk of attrition. This diverse student population is frequently intersected by various equity categorisations and students have described, in interviews and surveys , a range of conflicting and demanding responsibilities in their lives. For students like Marilyn, simply gaining entry to university is a complex and difficult undertaking but once arrived, the freedoms associated with attaining a degree may also be constrained.
The focus in this presentation is the ways in which students’ actions and behaviours in the higher education environment can be related to understandings of capabilities and capitals. Applying the complementary theoretical lenses of Bourdieu (1986; 1992), Yosso (2005) and Sen (1992; 1999), this research explores the various ‘conflicts’ and ‘freedoms’ learners encountered within this environment. Findings inform understandings about the interactions that occur between students’ existing capitals and capabilities and those expected within the university environment. A focus that recognises how some student cohorts ‘…are unable to enact the student role in the ways expected by university discourses’ (O’Shea, 2015, p. 255). In summary, the presentation hopes to provide the basis for further understanding of how the self and existing capitals are drawn upon when students from diverse backgrounds transition into, and engage with, higher education environments. These insights can be used to improve the student experience for diverse cohorts, perhaps relieving some of the ‘tensions’ around perceived freedoms to access university.
About the speaker:
Sarah O’Shea has spent over twenty years working to effect change within the higher education sector through research that focuses on the access and participation of students from identified equity groups. Her institutional and nationally funded research studies advance understanding of how under-represented student cohorts enact success within university, navigate transition into this environment, manage competing identities and negotiate aspirations for self and others. This work is highly regarded for applying diverse conceptual and theoretical lenses to tertiary participation, which incorporate theories of social class, identity work, gender studies and poverty. Since 2011, Sarah has obtained over $1 million dollars in research funding, all of which explores educational equity in the HE environment. In 2016, she was awarded an ARC Discovery project exploring the persistence and retention of students who are the first in their families to come to university. This national study builds upon an Australian Government Teaching and Learning Fellowship (2015-2016) and consolidates a decade of work in the student retention field, which has focussed on students from a diversity of backgrounds.
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