22 SES 03 A, Inclusion and Diversity in Higher Education Settings
Parallel Paper Session
Research in students’ transition to higher education has either been devoted to barriers for entering higher education that the students’ carry with them from upper secondary school (Adelman, 1999; Ball, Maguire, & Macrae, 2000; Terenzini, Cabrera, & Bernal, 2001), or students’ college participations with a strong emphasis on retention (Goldrick-Rab, Carter, & Wagner, 2007; Tinto, 1993; Yorke & Longden, 2004). To understand the complexity of the identity process of students across institutional and cultural contexts, there is a call for more comprehensive approaches(Ecclestone, 2007).In this study we seek to understand transition to higher education as not only being a transition from or to a new institutional context, but a transition of identities and meaning as a process.
From the perspectives of narrative psychology we are always situated in the middle of our stories. We constantly reverse the plot in our narratives as new events occur, new perspectives of how these events will end and a new horizon of who to become are made visible (Polkinghorne, 1988). But there is a limitation as to how flexible our narratives can appear, as we perceive each other and ourselves as possessing a coherent self. Therefore we position our self according to a reliable appearance in where a stable self is expected (Bruner, 1990).
Meaning-making processes relate man to culture as humans continuously make sense of the world when they participate in culture. These ways of making meaning are culturally shared in the sense that ‘we live publicly by public meanings and by shared procedures of interpretation and negotiation’ (Bruner, 1990). Through culturally embedded narrative configurations we understand our existence as an expression of a single progressive story and achieve a sense of self and identity (Polkinghorne, 1988).
When entering higher education the students have to negotiate their expectations to what studying will be like, and work on their identities to be recognized and gain a sense of belonging. Further the student need to be recognized as herself, and therefore, she cannot construct new narratives without somehow being related to who she perceive herself as being and how her surrounding social relations perceives her. We are interested in how this negotiation takes place when entering a new cultural setting, what is perceived as legitimate pathways of becoming and how does the student handle possible dilemmas.
In personality and developmental narrative psychology it is argued how life storytelling consists of sequences produced by turning points (McAdams, Josselson, & Lieblich, 2001). Translating this notion into our theoretical position, a turning point is perceived as dynamic episodes in students’ identity construction, that indicates a change of perspective where the students redefine their expectations of who they are, who to become and their sense of belonging (Bruner, 2004).
In this study our analytic approach is to explore the turning points in students’ narratives, as they move from upper secondary school into higher education, in relation to their negotiation of an attractive identity.
References Adelman, C. (1999). Answers in the toolbox: academic intensity, attendance patterns, and bachelor's degree attainment. Washington DC: U.S. Dept. of Education. Andrews, M., Squire, C., & Tamboukou, M. (1998). Doing narrative research. London: Sage publications. Ball, S. J., Maguire, M., & Macrae, S. (2000). Choices, pathways and transitions post-16: new youth, new economies in the global city. London: RoutledgeFalmer. Bruner, J. (1990). Acts of meaning: Harvard University Press Bruner, J. (2004). Life as narrative. Social Research 71(3), 691-710. Ecclestone, K. (2007). Lost and found in transition: the implications of 'identity', 'agency' and 'structure' for educational goals and practices. Paper presented at the Researching transition in lifelong learning, University of Stirling. Flyvbjerg, B. (2011). Case study. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research (4th ed., pp. 301-316). Thiusand Oaks, California: Thousand Oaks. Goldrick-Rab, S., Carter, D. F., & Wagner, R. W. (2007). What Higher Education Has to Say About the Transition to College. Teachers College Record, 109(10), 2444-2481. Hollway, W., & Jefferson, T. (2000). Doing Qualitative Research Differently: free association, narrative and the interview method. London: Sage Publications. McAdams, D. P., Josselson, R., & Lieblich, A. (Eds.). (2001). Turns in the Road. Washington DC: American Psychological Association. Polkinghorne, D. E. (1988). Narrative knowing and the human sciences. Albany: State University of New Yorke Press. Terenzini, P. T., Cabrera, A. F., & Bernal, E. M. (2001). Swimming Against the Tide: The poor in American Higher education College Entrance Eximination Board. New York. Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving college. Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition (2 ed.). Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. Yorke, M., & Longden, B. (2004). Retention and student success in higher education. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.
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