22 SES 17 A, International Perspectives on Student Retention in Higher Education Part 2
Symposium continued from 22 SES 16 A
The decision to withdraw from a university programme is made following a process in which the student has attempted to find a way to cope with the demands and expectations of the study programme (Tinto, 1993). This is a process of negotiation in which students try to make sense of their experience in light of what they had imagined and assumed being a student would involve (Holmegaard et al., 2014, Johansson et al., 2016). The present paper builds on a bricolage of empirical studies carried out over a period of time, exploring the transitions to university experienced by Danish students in science, mathematics and engineering (SME). Based on these studies, the paper will discuss student expectations and assumptions about studying and how these were met and coped with. A particular focus will be on the repertoire that students bring with them from upper-secondary school and the imagined futures and identities that are available to them. In terms of retention, the student decision to stay or leave reflects a combination of several elements including course content, programme interests and study skills as well as the extent to which they construct a viable identity as students and future members of the discipline. Furthermore, the challenges facing the students are related to the expectations the teachers have concerning who the students are and what a student should be. However, when comparing these expectations with the curricula of the study programmes students have to negotiate ambiguous programme expectations in relation to the balance of autonomy, obedience and patience. Hence, the transition into university is a process of ambiguity and insecurity that the students are expected to cope with on their own.
HOLMEGAARD, H. T., MADSEN, L. M. & ULRIKSEN, L. 2014. A journey of negotiation and belonging: understanding students’ transitions to science and engineering in higher education. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 9, 755-786. JOHANSSON, A., ANDERSSON, S., SALMINEN-KARLSSON, M. & ELMGREN, M. 2016. “Shut up and calculate”: the available discursive positions in quantum physics courses. Cultural Studies of Science Education. TINTO, V. 1993. Leaving College. Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition., Chicago and London, The University of Chicago Press.
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