Burying the binaries: getting discourses to converge in a program for first-year university students

Henderson, Robyn and Noble, Karen (2011) Burying the binaries: getting discourses to converge in a program for first-year university students. In: Beyond binaries in education research. Routledge Research in Education. Taylor & Francis (Routledge), New York, USA, pp. 119-130. ISBN 978-0-415-88512-6


For many students, especially those who come from groups that often seem disconnected from tertiary study, including those from low socioeconomic, rural and remote backgrounds, beginning university can be a difficult experience. Traditionally, universities have offered generic study skills programs to assist ‘new’ students to make the transition into the tertiary context. However, recent work about the first year experience of university suggests that the process of ‘becoming’ a university student requires more than ‘top-up’ academic programs that are based on a successful/unsuccessful binary about students’ capacities to cope with university study.

In a regional Australian university, a program for first year Education students is based on Gee’s (1996) theorisation of Discourse (with a capital D) – the ways of being, doing, saying, believing, reading and writing that are shared by a particular social group. In seeing transition into university as a process of learning a new Discourse, the program focuses on the social aspects of transition and embeds the academic within the social. Drawing on data collected during the first two years of the program, this chapter describes the program and how it has worked to dispel the binaries that are so often used to describe new university students, and demonstrates the effects of helping students see the convergences of their different Discourses.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Chapter 9. Permanent restricted access to paper due to publisher copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2011 02:36
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2017 01:37
Uncontrolled Keywords: first year experience, transition
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930102 Learner and Learning Processes
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/9244

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