Publication Details

O'Shea, S. (2016). Navigating the knowledge sets of older learners: Exploring the capitals of first-infamily mature age students. Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 18 (3), 34-54.


This paper is based upon research with Australian students who were the first in their family to come to university. The studies sought to explore how attending university impacted upon both the learners and their families, particularly the intergenerational implications of this attendance. Drawing on indepth interviews conducted with older university students enrolled in a medium sized regional university, this paper will focus on how this mature cohort articulated the ways in which they drew upon life and work experiences during their transition to university. Applying the Community Cultural Framework (Yosso, 2005) this article proposes that these learners brought a range of capitals to the higher education environment including what has been termed 'experiential capital'. In exploring the characteristics and sources of these capitals, the paper will include suggestions about how higher education institutions might seek to both recognise and nurture such resources within the tertiary sector.



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