Does identity influence how learners seek support?

Newton, Vivienne and Telfer, Sarah ORCID: 0000-0002-6307-9735 (2017) Does identity influence how learners seek support? Educationalfutures, 8 (2). pp. 26-47. ISSN 1758-2199

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This article presents a research case study of learners attending a university in the North West of England. This university attracts learners of all ages from diverse backgrounds; many fall into the classification of ‘non-traditional’ students who do not possess the identity associated with those who typically progress to university. Compared to middle-class social agents who see progression to University as natural, students from low participation groups may feel that their background influences upon their university experience. Their perceived social class may direct their friendship groups, engagement with university activities and academic literacy and study skills acquisition (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1990). For these learners, the support services encountered during their early experiences of university can play a significant part in their retention and long-term outcomes. The primary aim of this study explores the use of support facilities at university and examines any obstacles there are to their use; investigating the need for support is a secondary aim. The study investigates social class, habitus and learner identity and scrutinises the role these factors play in the acquisition of academic literacy and study skills. It evaluates research into the effective academic literacy models and considers what inventions have been implemented in other universities. It seeks to offer valuable insight into the individual student learning experience at one university through evaluating how learners identify themselves and how this may impact upon their academic literacy and study skills acquisition. Predominantly qualitative data has been used to investigate the social, economic and educational backgrounds of students and whether students feel prepared when arriving at university. Through a thematic analysis of topics raised during a series of focus groups, the support mechanisms that students have engaged with and possible links between social background and skills competency have been explored. Conclusions indicate that although many students do successfully engage with the current services on offer at this university, considering perceived identity and an academic literacies approach may increase engagement and positive outcomes.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an electronic version of the accepted manuscript published in Educationalfutures, Vol.8,2017.
Uncontrolled Keywords: social class, habitus, learner identity, academic literacy, study skills
Divisions: School of Education and Psychology > Education
Depositing User: Tracey Gill
Date Deposited: 11 May 2017 13:31
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2018 10:53

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