The educational and psychosocial experiences of first generation students

Siyengo, Nokwanda (2015-12)

Thesis (MEd)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The experiences of first generation students or non-traditional university students are well researched internationally. However, little specific research on this group of students is conducted in South Africa, especially those who have attended bridging programmes and have successfully completed university degrees. This qualitative case study explores the educational and psychosocial experiences of first generation students who have been successful in higher education. The study drew on a number of theoretical strands. These positions included, Bourdieu’s social and cultural theory, Yosso’s cultural wealth theory, Tinto’s widening participation theory, Ungar’s resilience theory and Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological systems theory. Eight participants were selected as research participants based on their status of being first generation students at the specific university where the study was conducted. Data were collected using a focus group, followed by semi structured interviews as well as research journal entries. The themes that emerged were structured around positive and negative experiences of higher education. The findings suggested that negative experiences included how difficult it is for FGS to access higher education institutions as well as the financial challenges they encounter because they come from families that survive on low incomes. The participants highlighted the financial relief that the National Student Financial Scheme brought to them when they determined to pursue higher education. They also commended the universities’ administration system and this stood out as a significantly positive experience Lecture hall experience of diversity, student residence experience, institutional culture as well as the language of teaching and learning arose as significant themes when describing negative experiences in higher education.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die ondervindinge van eerste generasie studente of nie-tradisionele studente is deeglik nagevors op internasionale vlak. Min spesifieke navorsing oor hierdie groep bestaan in Suid-Afrika, veral onder studente wat oorbruggingsprogramme bygewoon het en hul universiteitsgrade voltooi het. Die kwalitatiewe studie verken die opvoedkundige en psigososiale ervaringe van eerste generasie studente wat suksesvol was op universiteit. Die studie is gefondeer binne ‘n paar teoretiese orientasies. Die posisies sluit in Bourdieu se sosiale en kulturele teorie, Yosso se kulturele rykdom teorie, Tinto se verbreedte deelname teorie, Ungar se veerkragtigheidsteorie en Bronfenbrenner se bio-ekologiese sisteemsteorie. Ag deelnemers was gekies omdat hul eerste generasie studente was wat aan die universiteit studeer het waar die studie gedoen is. Data was ingesamel deur ‘n fokus groep, semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude en ook navorsingsjoernaal inskrywings. Temas uit die navorsing is gestruktureer in terme van negatiewe en positiewe ervaringe van die höer onderwys. Die bevindinge dui aan dat negatiewe ervaringe toegang tot höer onderwys en finansiële struikelblokke insluit. Die deelnemers het aangedui hoe die Nasionale Studente Finansiële Skema groot finansiële verligting bring en dit moontlik maak dat hul verder kan studeer. Hul het ook die universiteit se administratiewe sisteem geprys want dit het as ‘n baie positiewe ervaring uitgestaan. Negatiewe ervaringe is beskryf onder die temas van klaskamer ervaringe van diversiteit, studente se koshuis ervaringe, institusionele kultuur en die taal van leer en onderrig.

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