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Session Overview
RN10_10b_IC: Higher Education II
Friday, 01/Sep/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Location: Intercontinental - Athenaeum CC II
Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel Syngrou Avenue 89-93 Athens, Greece Floor: Lobby Level

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“May the Course be with You”: Socio-Cultural Self-Identifications Affect Students' Learning through Perceived Course Relevance

Margot Belet

University of Leuven (KU Leuven), Belgium

‘Course relevance’ - students’ perception of a course as related to their interests – has been shown to stimulate both ‘subjective’ (e.g. course motivation) and ‘objective’ (e.g. course achievement) learning outcomes. Still, multiple theoretical frameworks – Gay’s ‘culturally responsive teaching’, ‘hidden curriculum’ theories (e.g. Bourdieu, Bernstein), certain tenets in postmodernism, discourses about situated knowledge, etc. – share the assumption that teaching techniques do not resonate equally with all students. Instead, their effects are predicted to depend on the degree of ‘identity congruence’ between the course and students’ socio-cultural backgrounds. When testing such ‘socio-culturally sensitive’ relevance-increasing teaching methods, most research however still stresses their beneficial effects for the entire student group. By contrast, the current study examines how relevance varies within the classroom, due to the (in)congruence between students’ identities and the course. It also untangles relevance effects related to the course content versus its medium. An experiment is conducted among 1325 undergraduates enrolled in five introductory Sociology courses at three universities in Flanders, Belgium. They viewed one of four versions of a video lecture about Durkheim, manipulated in its examples’ (1) feminine/masculine content and (2) visual/verbal medium. ‘Identity congruence’ effects are found on perceived relevance when matching (1) example content with students’ gender identity and (2) the example medium with students’ media identity. Perceived relevance affects course satisfaction and, in turn, achievement. Mismatching content with students’ gender identity negatively affects their learning, a medium mismatch does not.

Choices and access of first-generation-university students to an HE institution. An intersectionally informed exploration of inclusion/exclusion dynamics.

Marco Romito

University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy

Within contemporary European “knowledge” societies, higher education (HE) increasingly constitute the key field to explore the production and reproduction of inequalities. If secondary education attainment have been increasingly equalized, rates of enrolment and completion of HE are still (and sometimes increasingly) conditioned by family background. Increasing processes of horizontal stratification within the field of HE have been also outlined, so that the processes of choosing an HE institution have become a key field of study.

My presentation will discuss results of an ongoing qualitative research project exploring the processes of transition and social integration in an Italian HE institution of a group of 40 first-generation-university-students (Spiegler & Bednarek, 2013).

Research design is longitudinal. In-depth interviews have been carried out with students just enrolled in their first year at the University of Turin and these students will be interviewed a second time next year.

Objective of the project is twofold. 1) To explore the cognitive-relational framework conditioning their university choices (Ball et al. 2002). 2) To analyze how multiple social identifications based on social class, gender and migratory background condition FGS initial phases of adjustment to the relational, academic and administrative structure characterizing the HE context (Lee & LaDousa, 2015).

First results show the usefulness of drawing together a Bourdieusian (Ingram, 2009; Stahl, 2013) and an intersectionality informed toolbox (Anthias 2013). By looking at HE choices and at the initial phases of the university experience, I show how interviewees are positioned along multiple axis of social inequalities defining specific spaces of inclusion/exclusion and co-defining their habitus.

Cultural differences in projection of institutional identity and conceptualisations of students on university websites

Predrag Lazetic

University of Surrey, United Kingdom

The research in this paper presents a comprehensive, comparative cultural analysis of current (2017 versions) of 60 higher education institutions websites in 6 European countries (10 websites each in England, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Denmark and Poland). The theoretical framework that has underpinned many analyses of cross-national cultural differences (including comparisons of websites) is Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory. Hofstede (G. Hofstede (1984, 2011); G. H. Hofstede and Hofstede (2001)) argues that world cultures vary in relation to four key dimensions : power distance (PD), individualism vs. collectivism (IC), femininity vs masculinity (MAS) and uncertainty avoidance (UA). In addition, another analytical dichotomy between high and low context cultures (Hall (1976)) was used. The theoretical dimensions were operationalised for the purpose of analysis of university websites and for each multiple website markers were identified. The website material was analysed with the use of content score charts and by direct coding in the NVivo software. The expectation of the research is that presence of different cultural dimensions varies according to the country score produced by Hofstede et al. (2010).

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