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Thursday, May 15 • 10:45am - 11:15am
Claiming Space: Adult Female Learners' Return to Post-Secondary Education

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As Canadian post-secondary institutions grapple with declining enrollments within the traditional student demographic, many are actively discussing the multi-faceted concepts of student engagement, support and persistence. The present study focused on female adult learners, a demographic that is growing at Canadian institutions and one that will become more critical as the traditional 18–25 age group shrinks as a proportion of post-secondary enrollment. This study examined the lived experience of seven adult female learners as they (re)engaged with post-secondary education at a mid-sized western Canadian university, using the metaphor of claiming one’s space and, through this, the building of campus community. The study provided an opportunity for students to express themselves in their own words over a 13 week period and permitted an in-depth examination of how they constructed their learning experiences and own identities. Using van Manen’s approach to phenomenological hermeneutics, the study emphasized the interpretive analysis of actual life texts, writing as research and the development of pedagogical competence. The results produced three main themes of motion, emotion and connection. The implications of these findings were discussed for students, educators and researchers, with strategies for supporting the transformative learning experiences, and the subsequent claim on cultural space, for female adult students within post-secondary settings.


Of Interest to: Post-secondary education, Researchers, Administrators

avatar for Jan Duerden

Jan Duerden

Lecturer, English and Modern Languages, Thompson Rivers University

Thursday May 15, 2014 10:45am - 11:15am PDT
Campus Activity Centre, CAC 346 900 McGill Road, Kamloops, BC, Canada V2C 0C8