Publication Details

O'Shea, S. (2009). Hearing the student voice - examining the processes of transition, persistence and engagement for a group of first year, first in family university students. In S. Kennedy & C. Doyle (Eds.), 12th Biennial CSSI Confederation: 'The First Year Experience' (pp. 82-93). Dublin: The Confederation of Student Services in Ireland.


This paper outlines a qualitative, narrative study that focuses on the student experience as it relates to a particular cohort of students namely women who are the first in the family to attend university. Seventeen students were recruited to participate in a series of four semi-structured interviews conducted throughout one academic year. These interviews investigated the processes involved in transition as well as the perceptions held about engaging in tertiary study and the hurdles encountered during the year. The research accompanied the students as each travelled through the university environment, exploring what it means to be a 'first-year student'. The study is informed by both constructivist grounded theory and narrative analysis in order to highlight how individuals 'move' through an environment characterised by flux and transformation.