'Lone parent students and the bachelor boy ideal of university participation', Symposium: Student parents in higher education: equity and policies (ref. 2435)

Hinton-Smith, Tamsin (2011) 'Lone parent students and the bachelor boy ideal of university participation', Symposium: Student parents in higher education: equity and policies (ref. 2435). In: British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, 5th-8th September 2011, Institute of Education, London.

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This paper discusses key factors informing learning experience and outcomes in Higher education for students who are lone parents. It draws on the findings of an in depth longitudinal ESRC-funded study of 79 lone parents studying at HEIs across the UK, and representing the breadth of the sector (Hinton-Smith 2009). Through students' own narratives, the research illustrates the impact of HE cultures upon lone parents' learning experiences, identifying key areas for institutions to learn from elements of good practice in more student-focused universities.

Measures around timetable availability, seminar group allocation, text-messaging students regarding short-notice lecture cancellations, and appropriate leniency around attendance and assessment submission can be pivotal in facilitating successful HE outcomes for lone parent students as they juggle competing commitments (Taylor 2007; Wisker 1996). Many lone parents make strongly self-motivated and determined learners (Polakow et al. 2004), but they are often hindered by haphazard experiences of negotiating academic pathways, too frequently at the discretion of individual teaching and administrative staff they encounter. While the support to which student parents are entitled must be sanctioned in HE Policy, it should also be central to ideals of individual staff good practice in HE, as part of wider institutional cultures. Many staff and institutions implicitly continue to prize the ideal of the traditional ‘Bachelor boy' student (Edwards 1993), free from conflicting demands competing against studentship. This paper illuminates the wider relevance of lone parent students' experiences to many non-traditional students targeted by the Widening participation agenda, as a progressively expanded, marketised HE landscape increasingly necessitates students balancing competing commitments of care responsibilities, employment and learning (Jones 2006; Merrill 1999; Reay 2003).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0826 Social institutions
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher education > LB2326.4 Institutions of higher education
Depositing User: Tamsin Hinton-Smith
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2013 15:19
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2013 15:19
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/43587
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