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


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.

Published: 2018-07-18
Pages:13 to 23

Author Biographies

Griffith University
Australia Australia

Associate Professor

Coordinator Community Partnership

EPS Executive, School of Education and Professional Studies, Logan Campus, Griffith University

Griffith University
Australia Australia

Careers Outreach Coordinator

Student Diversity & Inclusion, Student Services, Logan Campus, Griffith University

Griffith University
Australia Australia

Senior Researcher

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795