Can We Provide a more Supportive Approach to Academic Socialization for Students by Reconsidering Transition as Becoming?

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The increasing massification of education in recent decades has led to growing interest in how educational institutions can support student transition into university. As business schools we have a very broad and diverse group of students of which many have experiences from business and industry and many enroll as more mature students. Much effort has been put into the design and organization of formal learning environments in order to help students adapt to existing higher education structures and extensive resources have been spent on this process of academic socialization including courses on academic reading and writing, student guidance, and other forms of support and counselling to get it “right” (Burnett & Larmar, 2011). However, transition into higher education is a complex process, comprising many influencing factors, conditions, and circumstances that make each student’s transition different and difficult to fit into preexisting structures (Palmer, O'Kane, & Owens, 2009; Taylor & Harris-Evans, 2016). While efforts to create systematic, institution-wide projects for first-year transition have proved valuable (see e.g. Kift, 2015), transition as a concept has been used largely uncritically as noted by Gale and Parker (2014) who encourage a more explicit understanding of the concept to inform different approaches to transition research, practice, and policies. They present a typology of three conceptualizations: induction, development, and becoming. They describe transition as induction or development as focusing on how to support students to find pathways to a certain goal or advance their social-psychological development (mature) by adapting their beliefs about learning and knowing to the established system. The third option, transition as becoming, is instead based on the understanding that there is no singular way to address student transition (Gale & Parker, 2014: 736) as students are diverse, and must navigate a complex reality with no clear distinction between private and public spheres. Student identity is constructed from participation in the world, not just the formal educational setting (Havnes, 2008). I find the latter understanding of transition, as becoming, particularly interesting due to its “whole-of-life” and “lived reality” focus (Gale and Parker, 2014: 738) as it emphasizes that higher education should accommodate students’ various needs and not just help them fit into existing system structures (Ecclestone, Biesta, & Hughes, 2010). The questions I would like to discuss at this year’s conference are: How we can support students in the transition process as holistic human beings, taking personal and out-of-university issues into consideration? Can we work with students to create supportive social environments for identity formation? Should we look to more informal encounters between students, faculty and staff? What could alternative supportive activities include? And what challenges do current structures pose?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2019 unConference : Research in Management Learning and Education (RMLE) Unconference
EditorsEmma Bell, Maribel Blasco, Todd Bridgman, Kathy Lund Dean, Matthew Drake, Jeanie Forray, Bill Foster, George Hrivnak, Amy L. Kenworthy
Number of pages2
Place of PublicationRobina
Publication date2019
ISBN (Print)9780980458589
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventResearch in Management Learning and Education Unconference. RMLE 2019 - University of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Duration: 1 Jul 20192 Jul 2019
Conference number: 7


ConferenceResearch in Management Learning and Education Unconference. RMLE 2019
LocationUniversity of Dubrovnik
Internet address

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