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Stories of rebirth and reinvention: a narrative identity exploration of the experiences of non-traditional students in an Irish higher education institution

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dc.contributor.advisor McGarr, Oliver
dc.contributor.advisor Lynch, Raymond Gill, Patrick 2019-02-06T11:39:31Z 2019-02-06T11:39:31Z 2018
dc.description peer-reviewed en_US
dc.description.abstract This thesis reports the outcome of research into the narrative identity of non-traditional students in an Irish higher education institution. Non-traditional students face many unique challenges upon immersion in the social and cultural milieu of higher education. While several quantitative studies have been carried out, on completion rates of non-traditional students, and while these have raised concerns about various aspects of their experience, only a limited amount of qualitative research has been carried out, on the post-entry experiences of these student cohorts. This research set out to explore non-traditional student experience, taking a narrative identity perspective on how non-traditional students, themselves, relate and account for their experiences. Narrative identity opened up the possibility of getting beyond mere statistics, to a qualitative insight into student experience, thus contributing to an ever increasing humanism in this research field. Considered life histories (mostly educational) were gathered from eight non-traditional students in an Irish institute of technology. The students were interviewed, following a period of reflection by them, on their educational life history to date. The research participants illustrated a capacity to readily engage in this narrative identity/life history exercise. Applying this methodology is novel in an Irish context. Their considered narratives indicated some interesting patterns, and some personal adjustments, which suggest that identity modification is taking place, or has already taken place. In line with narrative identity theory, it was evident that the participants exhibit an instinctive drive towards an overarching theme to give meaning to their experiences of entry into third-level education, at the very least, if not also to life in general. It is argued that the theme of rebirth or reinvention emerged as the purpose and meaning that these non-traditional students ascribe to their transition and integration into higher education, and that this personal theme ranks higher than any sociological integration considerations. These results may offer Institutions a better foundation for responding to the needs of this student cohort, as they provide a more nuanced picture of the issues at play in the lives of non-traditional students, and provide a sample of how certain supports are effective, as distinct from those that, perhaps, are not. There is also scope to widen this research to a broader range and type of participants, issues and institutions so that responses to the needs of this cohort can take account of the narrative identity they express. en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher University of Limerick en_US
dc.subject higher education en_US
dc.subject students en_US
dc.subject Irish academic institution en_US
dc.subject non-traditional students en_US
dc.title Stories of rebirth and reinvention: a narrative identity exploration of the experiences of non-traditional students in an Irish higher education institution en_US
dc.type info:eu-repo/semantics/doctoralThesis en_US
dc.type.supercollection all_ul_research en_US
dc.type.supercollection ul_published_reviewed en_US
dc.type.supercollection ul_theses_dissertations en_US
dc.rights.accessrights info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess en_US

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