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Exploring the experience of low-SES students via enabling pathways

Enabling programs are a key pathway for students from low socio-economic status backgrounds and although literature exists about the student experience within these programs, less is known about how they experience university study after they have entered their full degree programs.

A new research project led by Dr Chad Habel and Dr Kirsty Whitman from the University of Adelaide, along with Jennifer Stokes from the University of South Australia, seeks to explore the lived experience of these students.

“Students from low SES backgrounds are vastly over-represented in sub-degree programs as the programs act as an alternative entry pathway for students who haven’t traditionally gone on to study at university,” said Dr Habel.

“Our previous research has found that students undertaking enabling programs experience significant increases in their academic self-efficacy, and they have both positive and negative transformational experiences. What the literature doesn’t explore is their experience once they have entered their undergraduate degree programs.”

“In our project, we will interview students who were originally interviewed whilst they were undertaking their enabling programs, and ask them about their experiences now they’re at university. How do these students recall their experiences in the enabling programs? What is the difference in the student experience between the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia? The inter-institutional research design of this project is particularly promising, because we expect students to experience their transition to University quite differently across these contexts.”

Dr Habel’s project is one of 12 funded via the NCSEHE’s 2015 Student Equity in Higher Education Research Grants Program and is expected to complement research currently being undertaken by the NCSEHE into the efficacy of enabling programs. The project is scheduled to conclude in October 2015, after which time the final report will be made available here on the NCSEHE website.

Posted 19 May 2015 Posted in General, Low SES