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Title: 'Mature students' narratives of Irish higher education : a critical Bourdieusian analysis
Author: Bruen, Teresa
ISNI:       0000 0004 5358 4708
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis examines the experiences of mature students on entering Higher Education within the Republic of Ireland. The research question is “What do the experiences of mature students who are undertaking an under graduate degree programme in applied social studies reveal about the field of Higher Education in the Republic of Ireland?” A narrative approach was employed drawing on data from the narratives of 6 mature students within an Institute of Higher Education within the West of Ireland. The conceptual framework for the inquiry is built on Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice, particularly the concepts of habitus, capital and field. Six key themes emerged from the narratives these were; Experiences of first and second level education; Family support; Going to college; Balancing study and work and family commitments; Supportive networks; Pleasant surprise. The lack of economic, social and cultural capital and the disparity between their habitus and the institutional habitus impacted upon their experiences of Higher Education. They revealed the difficulties faced when trying to amass social capital, managing the transition of first year in Higher Education and the challenges they faced due to lack of cultural and economic capital. The field of Higher Education is uncompromising in terms of curricula delivery and time commitments which did not at times suit the lives of the mature students. However the mature students were pleasantly surprised by their experiences of Higher Education particularly because of the pedagogical practices of shared learning and a sense of equality between the academic staff and the mature student The narratives revealed the need to consider the overall structure of the field of Higher Education aligning systemic and structural aspects with mature students’ requirements. Educational policy should address the lack of social, cultural and economic capital through the development of flexible programmes. The habitus of the mature student needs to be valued to enhance pedagogical practice.
Supervisor: Mr Wright, Nigel. G. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available