The Australian Centre for Student Equity and Success acknowledges Indigenous peoples as the Traditional Owners of the lands on which our campuses are situated. With a history spanning 60,000 years as the original educators, Indigenous peoples hold a unique place in Australia. We recognise the importance of their knowledge and culture, and reflect the principles of participation, equity, and cultural respect in our work. We pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future, and consider it an honour to learn from our Indigenous colleagues, partners, and friends.

You are reading: 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

Abstract

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.

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