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ERIC Number: EJ1162906
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0260-1370
Isolated Learners: Young Mature-Age Students, University Culture, and Desire for Academic Sociality
Mallman, Mark; Lee, Helen
International Journal of Lifelong Education, v36 n5 p512-525 2017
The differentiated experiences of "young" mature-age students are under-researched and often unacknowledged in higher education literature and university policy. This article contends that, due to their age (early 20s to early 30s), many younger mature-age students feel "out of the loop" and "alienated" from university culture. The sample is drawn from a large first-year subject and analyses students' written ethnographic reflections on their identities as students within university culture. Using interpretive theory and NVivo coding software to analyse the written assignments, the experience of isolation amongst the young mature-age demographic was a prominent and unanticipated finding. Students in this age range want academic-based sociality but do not identify as either school leaver or "mature-age." They feel like isolated learners. We argue young mature-age students' experiences of social isolation pose a significant barrier to full participation, negatively impacting their identities as students and their university transition. In Australia and internationally, governments and universities have increased their enrolments of young mature-age students, but their capacity to structure learning environments to suit them are limited without greater knowledge of their diverse experiences. Taking a cultural, socially situated view of learning allows insights into students' experiences and suggests opportunities for understanding and supporting them.
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 530 Walnut Street Suite 850, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Tel: 215-625-8900; Fax: 215-207-0050; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A