Considering the Cultural Strengths of Older First Generation University Students: An Australian Perspective
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Drawing on research conducted with older first generation (FG) students studying at a regional Australian university, this chapter explores how attending university interacted with the apriori life experiences of both learners and their families. Adopting a narrative inquiry approach, participants in two studies were encouraged to reflect deeply on their experiences of 'moving into' the university environment with particular reference to how they drew upon their life and work experiences in their transition and engagement with higher education. This analysis draws upon the Community Cultural Wealth framework developed by Yosso (2005), which recognises the cultural strengths of diverse student groups. In addition the work of Sen (1992, 2003) provides further theoretical framing to contextualize how older, FG students managed this return to learning, with particular reference to the relative freedoms individuals had access to during this transition. The focus of this chapter is the ways in which older students defined and enacted 'success' within the tertiary environment, including the ways in which they utilised existing knowledges and skills in this enactment.