Crossing boundaries & navigating borders: Exploring how first in family students move through university landscape. Tue 11th September, 13.00-14.00 hrs, BS 3.28 (Business School)

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Associate Professor: Sarah O’Shea

Drawing on research conducted across the Australian higher education sector, this presentation explores the invisible boundaries that first-in-family learners considered they had to overcome in order to get to and succeed at university. These ranged from institutional or organisational boundaries through to boundaries imposed by self and others. Applying the sensitizing lens of boundary crossing, an analysis of how learners both navigated their transition into university and the types of persistence behaviours adopted is provided. The focus is on those who have traversed these boundaries and considers the nature of these incursions and the impacts such movements had, as narrated by the students themselves. While this cohort all self-identified as being the first in their family to attend university they also acknowledged a variety of additional social, cultural and economic factors that impacted upon this educational journey. Referring to in-depth biographical interviews conducted with 72 intersected learners, this deeply qualitative study contributes to our understanding about the university persistence behaviours of diverse student cohorts and provides an alternative framing from which to consider these educational trajectories. Brief Bio: Associate Professor Sarah O’Shea leads the Adult, Vocational and Higher Education discipline in the School of Education, University of Wollongong, Australia. Sarah’s 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. Sarah has published extensively in the field and has been awarded over $(AUD)1.5 million in grant funding since 2009. Sarah is also an Australian Learning and Teaching Fellow (ALTF), a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Australian National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education

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