Being First in Family: motivations and metaphors

Ann Luzeckyj, Ben McCann, Charmaine Graham, et al.

Published in Higher Education Research and Development
19 September 2017


First in Family (FiF) is an under-recognised equity grouping which may encompass low-SES, mature-aged, regional and remote, and Indigenous students. FiF tertiary students are more likely to be in a position of educational disadvantage over students who have other family members available to share the experience of university life and discuss aspirations. Building on previous research, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 18 FiF university students from a range of disciplines across three South Australian institutions. We analysed the interview data based on themes derived through readings of FiF literature, adding new ones as they emerged as part of the process of analysis. In this paper, we specifically focus on the interview responses which included metaphors or analogies. Metaphors provide a conceptual framework for thinking about a particular problem and drawing comparisons between unlike situations. Our experience as educators told us that students often subtly and unintentionally utilise metaphors when articulating lived experiences. We both specifically asked the FiF students to identify a metaphor that reflected their experience of being at university and also considered their use of metaphors in response to other questions. In exploring these metaphors, we have gained insight into students’ day-to-day experience of attending university and have gained information about their motivations and their struggles. When considered by university staff and policy-makers, this information could be used to guide the development of strategies that may help future FiF students.

Luzeckyj, Ann, Ben McCann, Charmaine Graham, Sharron King, and Jacqui McCann. 2017. “Being First in Family: motivations and metaphors.” Higher Education Research & Development. 36 (6): 1237-1250. doi. 10.1080/07294360.2017.1300138 

Posted 24 November 2017 By ncsehe