ERIC Number: EJ769039
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Aug
Reference Count: 30
The Transition of Adult Students to Higher Education: Legitimate Peripheral Participation in a Community of Practice?
O'Donnell, Victoria L.; Tobbell, Jane
Adult Education Quarterly: A Journal of Research and Theory, v57 n4 p312-328 Aug 2007
This article presents empirical research exploring adult students' transition to higher education (HE) through a program designed to enable that transition. Wenger's Communities of Practice theory has been applied to informal adult learning by Merriam, Courtenay, and Baumgartner (2003), who suggested its potential for understanding formal education. Using this theoretical framework, adults' transition to HE is explored in terms of learning, participation in practices, and identity. Students were interviewed, and qualitative data analysis revealed that although they perceived themselves to be peripheral participants in the community, university regulations, and academic procedures sometimes undermined their feelings of legitimacy. Their experiences of the community's practices were mediated by individual, shifting identities and a sense of belonging. Their experiences are discussed in terms of the power of practice to include or exclude, and the concomitant identity shifts which may lead to fuller participation. Implications for the design of transitional programs are also discussed.
Descriptors: Higher Education, Transitional Programs, Data Analysis, Qualitative Research, Adult Students, Adult Learning, Models, Interviews, Nontraditional Students, Foreign Countries, Undergraduate Study, Community Involvement
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Adult Education; Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom