'A real rollercoaster of confidence and emotions': Learning to be a university student

Hazel Christie, Lyn Tett, Vivienne E. Cree, Jenny Hounsell, Velda McCune

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

171 Citations (Scopus)


Accounts of emotion and affect have gained popularity in studies of learning. This article draws on qualitative research with a group of non-traditional students entering an elite university in the UK to illustrate how being and becoming a university student is an intrinsically emotional process. It argues that feelings of loss and dislocation are inherent to the students' experiences of entering university, and that 'coming to know' a new community of practice is an emotional process that can incorporate feelings of alienation and exclusion, as well as of excitement and exhilaration. A broader understanding of how students learn then depends not just upon the individual's emotional commitment to developing a new learning identity, but on the emotional interaction between the student and the learning environment of the university.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-581
Number of pages15
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Issue number5
Early online date10 Oct 2008
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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