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“Viewing the First-Year student experience in Higher Education through a Cultural Capital Lens”. John D. Noble. Institute for Access Studies. Overview. Cultural Capital Rationale Method Findings Conclusion. Institute for Access Studies. Cultural Capital (1).

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“Viewing the First-Year student experience in Higher Education through a Cultural Capital Lens”.

John D. Noble

Institute for Access Studies

overview
Overview
  • Cultural Capital
  • Rationale
  • Method
  • Findings
  • Conclusion

Institute for Access Studies

cultural capital 1
Cultural Capital (1)
  • Concept formulated by Pierre Bourdieu
  • Looking at the unequal academic achievement of children from different social classes

“By pursuing appropriate ‘cultural investment strategies’ within the family, some social groups were able to ensure that their children optimized the yield from education”.

(Bourdieu & Passeron, 1977)

Institute for Access Studies

cultural capital 2
Cultural Capital (2)

“Elite education requires prior familiarity with élite cultural codes and students who, because of a lack of pre-university experience, are unfamiliar with these codes find it difficult to achieve educational success”.

(Longden, 2004)

Institute for Access Studies

cultural capital 3
Cultural Capital (3)

Bourdieu’s Three forms of Cultural Capital:

  • Embodied state – directly linked to and incorporated within the individual and represents what they know and can do.
  • Objectified state – represented by objects and goods such as books, paintings, music, instruments and machines.
  • Institutionalized capital – represented by a world of certificates and qualifications – a world of credentials.

Institute for Access Studies

rationale 1
Rationale (1)
  • The Widening Participation Agenda
  • UK Government target to raise participation rates amongst 18 to 30 year olds to 50% by 2010
  • Participation rates in the UK increasing (44%) but

“…over 75% of professional families send their children to Higher Education compared with less than 16% of children of parents in manual occupations”. (Longden, 2002)

Institute for Access Studies

rationale 2
Rationale (2)
  • What are the barriers to inclusion and engagement for students from non-traditional backgrounds?

Academic

Economic

Social

Cultural

(Quinn et al 2005)

Institute for Access Studies

rationale 3
Rationale (3)

“If the university is perceived as a culture, then student engagement can be viewed as becoming literate in this culture. This insight makes more apparent the crucial nature of the interrelationships between students’ cultural capital and institutional discourses, as well as the consequences for transition and retention”.

(Lawrence, 2005)

Institute for Access Studies

rationale 4
Rationale (4)

“The Big Question”

“What relationship is there between an individual’s cultural capital and their likelihood of becoming and remaining a full participant as a learner in Higher Education?”

Institute for Access Studies

method 1
Method (1)
  • Questionnaire (adapted from Sullivan (2003)). Increased Cronbach’s Alpha Coefficient value (.870)
  • Measures of individual participation in cultural activities and pastimes
  • Parental occupations and educational qualifications
  • Family participation in cultural activities and pastimes

Institute for Access Studies

method 2
Method (2)
  • Questionnaire administered to 396 students across three institutions
  • Responses entered through SPSS to calculate an individual “Cultural Capital” score
  • Students selected from upper and lower quartiles to produce contrasting cultural capital groups

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method 3
Method (3)
  • Focus groups formed
  • Questions concerned with information gathering, perceptions of university life, preparation and strategies which may lead to successful engagement in Higher Education

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tracking sample
Tracking Sample
  • 32 students selected; 18 high cultural capital students and 14 low cultural capital students
  • 5 students withdrew from project before enrolment at university; 3 students took a gap year and 2 students could not be contacted
  • Students remaining: 16 Hcc, 11Lcc

Institute for Access Studies

method 4
Method (4)
  • Email contact made with all students upon entry to university
  • October 2005 – transition questions
  • February 2006 - “How is it going so far?” questions
  • April 2006 – Cultural capital effect questions

Institute for Access Studies

findings preparation 1
Findings (Preparation) (1)
  • Hcc students get information from family and work independently to find out about courses, universities and attendance at Open Days

“Everyone in my family has been to university, cousins, aunties and uncles so I’ve just picked up on that”.

Institute for Access Studies

findings preparation 2
Findings (Preparation) (2)

“My selection of course and institution was made almost entirely by myself. Students who may not have had as much support and encouragement from parents as I had may not have been as thorough in their research”. (Hcc student)

Institute for Access Studies

findings preparation 3
Findings (Preparation) (3)
  • Lcc students rely on information given through schools/colleges, prospectuses and the internet

“I just looked at the prospectuses and the internet and went from there”.

“I listed about six universities and then looked at the prospectuses”.

Institute for Access Studies

findings preparation 4
Findings (Preparation) (4)
  • Both Hcc and Lcc students recognised the difficulty of preparing for every eventuality.

“I don’t think anything can really prepare you for uni. I thought I was prepared and I didn’t think I would be homesick but once you get there you are on your own”. (Lcc)

“There are aspects of uni life that one can never be prepared for until they become a student, such as depth of study and independence both in study and everyday life”. (Hcc)

Institute for Access Studies

findings transition 1
Findings (Transition) (1)

“My parents have given me much support, both emotional and financial which has helped me to settle into university life”.

(Hcc student)

“Support from family and friends has helped me in the fact that they have been and still are there for me if I am struggling in my classes or just struggling in general”.

(Lcc student)

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findings transition 2
Findings (Transition) (2)

“We are too busy to remember home most of the time. You get stuck in and get on with it”.

(Hcc student)

“As I am now studying independently my family has left me to my own devices and given me the space to grow”.

(Hcc student)

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findings engagement 1
Findings (Engagement) (1)

“Make sure you join at least one society, preferably 2 or 3. Societies will guarantee you some really close friends with common interests”. (Hcc student)

“Never shut yourself away. Always have your door open to people and never isolate yourself”. (Hcc student)

Institute for Access Studies

findings engagement 2
Findings (Engagement) (2)
  • Lcc students may be more likely to live off campus. This may present barriers to engagement

“Just get involved in everything you can. I have struggled due to living at home. I find it hard to socialize due to not living on campus”. (Lcc student)

Institute for Access Studies

tracking sample1
Tracking Sample
  • Of 16 in high cultural capital group, 2 did not complete their first year. One changed course within the same university and the other re-applied to a different university. All 16 remain in Higher Education
  • Of 11 in low cultural capital group, 2 left their course within two weeks and contact lost with a third

Institute for Access Studies

conclusion 1
Conclusion (1)
  • It is possible to measure students’ cultural capital with a good degree of confidence
  • Cultural capital does make a difference to students’ initial experience of university and the likelihood of retention
  • Key factors in helping Lcc students engage with the university experience – living on campus

Institute for Access Studies

conclusion 2
Conclusion (2)
  • Cultural Capital makes a real difference to the way in which students approach decision making about universities
  • Hcc students may show propensity for greater independence in Higher Education setting

Institute for Access Studies

conclusion 3
Conclusion (3)
  • Answering “The Big Question”!

This research would appear to indicate that the higher a student’s level of cultural capital the more likely that student is to become and remain a FULL participant as a learner in Higher Education

Institute for Access Studies

references
References
  • Bourdieu, P. and Passeron, J.C. (1977) Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications
  • Lawrence, J. (2005) Re-conceptualising attrition and retention: integrating theoretical research and student perspectives. Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development 2(3), pp16-33
  • Longden, B. (2002) Retention rates – renewed interest but whose interest is being served? Research Papers in Education 17(1) pp 3-29
  • Longden, B. (2004) Interpreting student early departure from Higher Education through the lens of cultural capital. Tertiary Education and Management 10(2) pp121-138
  • Quinn, J., Thomas, L., Casey, L., Thexton, W. and Noble, J. (2005) From life disaster to lifelong learning: Re-thinking working class ‘drop-out’ from higher education. Staffordshire University, York Publishing Services
  • Sullivan, A. (2003) Cultural Capital, Rational choice and education inequalities. Unpublished PhD Thesis

Institute for Access Studies

contact details
Contact details
  • Email: J.D.Noble@staffs.ac.uk
  • Tel: +44 (0) 1782 294908
  • Address: Staffordshire University,

Institute for Access Studies,

Brindley Building,

Leek Road,

Stoke-on-Trent ST4 2DF

United Kingdom

Institute for Access Studies