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Tales from the borderland: Enabling students' experiences of preparation for higher education

journal contribution
posted on 19.11.2019, 00:00 by Julie WillansJulie Willans
The fundamental aim of pre-university courses is to prepare non-traditional students with the skills, knowledge and confidence to enter higher education. However, for many students, this unfamiliar learning context can feel like a ‘not so sure’ place, a borderland between their previous lives and the anticipated goal of a university education. Drawing on the work of Alsup (2006) and Gee (2005; 2011; 2015), this paper takes the analysis of a corpus of student data from one Australian university to demonstrate how borderland Discourses can provide a porthole into the dichotomous space navigated by many students as they engage in an enabling course. The borderland Discourses of inclusivity, exasperation and empowerment discussed in this study are testimony to the contradictions and ambiguities that can arise when institutional expectations pertaining to studenthood enhance and/or unsettle the multiple identities negotiated by enabling students who are on the threshold of a university education. In their expressions of frustration regarding personal limitations and positivist, institutional practices, students provide poignant insight into issues that cause tension for them. Conversely, the sense of belonging experienced by students in ‘safe’, supportive learning environments with compassionate teachers, and structured, scaffolded curriculums that imbue a sense of capability, confidence, and empowerment, seemingly allow for a fuller, positive embodiment of a student identity.

Funding

Other

History

Volume

6

Issue

1

Start Page

48

End Page

64

Number of Pages

17

eISSN

2203-8841

Publisher

The University of Newcastle

Additional Rights

CC BY 3.0

Peer Reviewed

Yes

Open Access

Yes

Era Eligible

Yes

Journal

International Studies in Widening Participation