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Enhancing Success at University: Understanding our Students Through Their Learning Careers


This article discusses a study that started from the premise that we can better support our students when we know who they are. The study used narrative analysis to explore reasons for success for undergraduate business students in a New Zealand university. Drawing on the work of Bourdieu and the concept of learning careers (Bloomer & Hodkinson, 2000) the study gained insights into the students’ educational journeys, the development of an educated habitus (Nash, 2002) and the importance of the development of social, academic and emotional capital on the journey towards success. The study reinforced findings about the non-linear paths to and through university of some students, and the importance of parental emotional support in student success. It demonstrated the usefulness of the concept of learning careers to better understand who our students are, and consequently how to better support them to succeed.

Published: 2022-02-28
Pages:21 to 31
How to Cite
Reid, F., & Davidson, J. . (2022). Enhancing Success at University: Understanding our Students Through Their Learning Careers. Student Success, 13(1), 21-31.

Author Biographies

Auckland University of Technology
New Zealand New Zealand

Dr Felicity Reid is Associate Dean Academic in the Faculty of Business Economics and Law at Auckland University of Technology. She oversees the programmes, teaching and learning and the student experience in the faculty. Her research interests include widening participation and student success in higher education.

University of Glasgow
United Kingdom United Kingdom

Dr Janis McIntyre Davidson is a Senior Lecturer working within Academic and Digital Development services. She leads on the coordination of an institutional framework for CPD and contributes to a range of initiatives to enhance learning and teaching. Her research interests include widening access to higher education, research supervision practice and professional recognition for academic staff.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795