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Transformative Learning: Developing Agency, Independence and Promoting a Strong Sense of Self in Teen Mothers


Adolescents who become pregnant during their secondary education experience a range of challenges that intersect and limit their opportunities to complete schooling and take up university places. One approach to addressing this issue at an Australian regional university is through the Tertiary Preparation Pathway (TPP) which has been delivered within the Supporting Teenagers with Education, Mothering, and Mentoring (STEMM) program, since 2008. The STEMM program offers teen mothers an opportunity to continue or re-engage with education during and beyond pregnancy. Adopting an intersectionality lens, interviews with adolescent mothers identified three key elements underpinning the success of the TPP/STEMM program: recognising the educational aspirations of teen mothers, developing agency and independence and promoting a strong sense of self. This article aims to provide practical implications for educators wishing to establish or develop programs based on this transformative teaching.

Published: 2020-03-04
Pages:66 to 74
How to Cite
Cheung, L., Kill, E., & Turley, J. (2020). Transformative Learning: Developing Agency, Independence and Promoting a Strong Sense of Self in Teen Mothers. Student Success, 11(1), 66-74.

Author Biographies

University of Queensland
Australia Australia

Lilliemay Cheung, PhD is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the UQ Business School at The University of Queensland, Australia. Her research is interdisciplinary drawing on transformative consumer marketing, healthcare research and service systems. Her research is published in international peer-reviewed journals including: Journal of Services Marketing, Journal of Services Management, Marketing Theory and the Australian Medical Journal.

University of the Sunshine Coast
Australia Australia

Emma Kill is a social worker with over 15 years work experience in the non -for -profit sector. Emma is an OLT citation recipient and a lecturer and social researcher at the University of the Sunshine Coast. She delivers part of the Tertiary Preparation Program (TPP), a preparation and pathway course helping students to gain entry to university. She coordinates part of the Supporting Teenagers with Education, Mothering, and Mentoring (STEMM) program re-engaging young mothers into education. Emma’s passion for social justice sees her creating equitable access pathways to tertiary education for those who would not have otherwise had the opportunity, equipping and supporting them through their academic journey.

University of the Sunshine Coast
Australia Australia

Janet Turley has been a librarian and educator in the fields of Business and Communication for over 20 years in corporate, public and higher education organisations. Janet is internationally recognised for research in assessment feedback, first-year integrated curriculum design, student drop-ins and University preparation for equity students. In 2012 and 2017, Janet was awarded collaborative Australian Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) citations for facilitating holistic and whole-of-university approaches to student learning transition and exemplary first tertiary education experiences. Janet is a PhD candidate focusing on the second-year experience of Communication students at four regional Australian Universities

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795