Interpreting the first-year experience of a non-traditional student: A case study

  • Judith Kearney Griffith University
  • Glenda Stanley Griffith University
  • Gina Blackberry Griffith University


This article concerns non-traditional students’ involvement in Australian higher education. It aims to deepen understanding of enabling and constraining factors for this group’s retention, through an in-depth case study of a non-traditional student’s university experience. The study is underpinned by principles of phenomenology, hermeneutics and idiography with data analysis involving an inductive coding process and a thematic analysis. Findings draw attention to the need to provide support for non-traditional university students in developing a sense of connectedness and resourcefulness. The study makes an original contribution to knowledge by challenging the assumption that western theories of psychology, which privilege an individualist perspective, adequately explain and predict behaviours of non-traditional students who are members of collective social systems. It emphasises the need for researchers and practitioners to adopt an interpretative stance that accommodates a collectivist perspective. Without this approach, student behaviours may be misinterpreted and their circumstances may be unfairly undervalued.

Jul 18, 2018
How to Cite
KEARNEY, Judith; STANLEY, Glenda; BLACKBERRY, Gina. Interpreting the first-year experience of a non-traditional student: A case study. Student Success, [S.l.], v. 9, n. 3, p. 13-23, july 2018. ISSN 2205-0795. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 20 aug. 2018. doi:
Abstract Views
PDF Views