‘How will i know when i’m ready?’ re-imagining FE/HE ‘transitions’ as collaborative identity work

Kendall, Alex and French, Amanda and Kempson, Michelle (2018) ‘How will i know when i’m ready?’ re-imagining FE/HE ‘transitions’ as collaborative identity work. Research in Post-Compulsory Education, 23 (1). pp. 41-56. ISSN 1359-6748

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Drawing on the findings of a Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) funded, multi-institutional, regional project, Transitions West Midlands, this paper works with Further Education (FE) students’ transition narratives as they look forward to, and back from the move from FE to HE and explores the role of the local, contextual factors that impact on the student transition experience. We mobilise Reay et al’s notion of ‘institutional habitus’ to draw attention to the discourses about transition at play within the institutional context and explore how these function to pattern and frame students’ world figuring and concept making, about what ‘transition’ might be like. We notice the dominance of a nebulous but fixed/stable concept of skill acquisition, understood as ‘HE readiness’ that drives particular approaches to student identity work characterised by self-recognitions of deficit, not being ‘ready’ or ‘good enough’ to transition. Readiness, we contend, works paradoxically to background and under-value the assets, for example the resilience associated with managing competing demands and navigating complexity, that students might bring to ‘transition events’. We trace the reproduction of this mis-recognition in students’ reports of their interactions with teachers, which play out, in turn, equally limiting narratives of FE teacher identity. By way of response we suggest that re-imagining ‘transition’ as essentially social, a process of becoming, rather than skills acquisition might re-position students and their teachers as more active, agentic protagonists in the narratives they make, and make available, about what transition can and might mean. In this sense, working reflexively together to understand transition as identity work might enable students and teachers to recover, recognise and put to work the rich assortment of assets and resources that students bring to the process of FE/HE transition.

Item Type: Article
6 March 2018Published
1 September 2017Accepted
Subjects: CAH22 - education and teaching > CAH22-01 - education and teaching > CAH22-01-01 - education
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > Centre for Study of Practice and Culture in Education (C-SPACE)
Depositing User: Alexandra Kendall
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2018 08:41
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2022 17:01
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/5704

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