The Transition of Students to Higher Education

Legitimate Peripheral Participation in a Community of Practice?

Jane Tobbell, Victoria L. O'Donnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

78 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article presents empirical research exploring adult students' transition to higher education (HE) through a program designed to enable that transition. Wenger's Communities of Practice theory has been applied to informal adult learning by Merriam, Courtenay, and Baumgartner (2003), who suggested its potential for understanding formal education. Using this theoretical framework, adults' transition to HE is explored in terms of learning, participation in practices, and identity. Students were interviewed, and qualitative data analysis revealed that although they perceived themselves to be peripheral participants in the community, university regulations, and academic procedures sometimes undermined their feelings of legitimacy. Their experiences of the community's practices were mediated by individual, shifting identities and a sense of belonging. Their experiences are discussed in terms of the power of practice to include or exclude, and the concomitant identity shifts which may lead to fuller participation. Implications for the design of transitional programs are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-328
Number of pages17
JournalAdult Education Quarterly
Volume57
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2007

Fingerprint

participation
community
education
theory-practice
student
learning
empirical research
legitimacy
experience
data analysis
regulation
university

Cite this

@article{756c1cd73bad45b895bd4fe0f92ddaa4,
title = "The Transition of Students to Higher Education: Legitimate Peripheral Participation in a Community of Practice?",
abstract = "This article presents empirical research exploring adult students' transition to higher education (HE) through a program designed to enable that transition. Wenger's Communities of Practice theory has been applied to informal adult learning by Merriam, Courtenay, and Baumgartner (2003), who suggested its potential for understanding formal education. Using this theoretical framework, adults' transition to HE is explored in terms of learning, participation in practices, and identity. Students were interviewed, and qualitative data analysis revealed that although they perceived themselves to be peripheral participants in the community, university regulations, and academic procedures sometimes undermined their feelings of legitimacy. Their experiences of the community's practices were mediated by individual, shifting identities and a sense of belonging. Their experiences are discussed in terms of the power of practice to include or exclude, and the concomitant identity shifts which may lead to fuller participation. Implications for the design of transitional programs are also discussed.",
keywords = "Adult Learning, Communities of Practice, Educational Transitions, Higher Education, Identity, Nontraditional Students, Participation",
author = "Jane Tobbell and O'Donnell, {Victoria L.}",
year = "2007",
month = "8",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1177/0741713607302686",
language = "English",
volume = "57",
pages = "312--328",
journal = "Adult Education Quarterly",
issn = "0741-7136",
publisher = "SAGE Publications Ltd",
number = "4",

}

The Transition of Students to Higher Education : Legitimate Peripheral Participation in a Community of Practice? / Tobbell, Jane; O'Donnell, Victoria L.

In: Adult Education Quarterly, Vol. 57, No. 4, 01.08.2007, p. 312-328.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - The Transition of Students to Higher Education

T2 - Legitimate Peripheral Participation in a Community of Practice?

AU - Tobbell, Jane

AU - O'Donnell, Victoria L.

PY - 2007/8/1

Y1 - 2007/8/1

N2 - This article presents empirical research exploring adult students' transition to higher education (HE) through a program designed to enable that transition. Wenger's Communities of Practice theory has been applied to informal adult learning by Merriam, Courtenay, and Baumgartner (2003), who suggested its potential for understanding formal education. Using this theoretical framework, adults' transition to HE is explored in terms of learning, participation in practices, and identity. Students were interviewed, and qualitative data analysis revealed that although they perceived themselves to be peripheral participants in the community, university regulations, and academic procedures sometimes undermined their feelings of legitimacy. Their experiences of the community's practices were mediated by individual, shifting identities and a sense of belonging. Their experiences are discussed in terms of the power of practice to include or exclude, and the concomitant identity shifts which may lead to fuller participation. Implications for the design of transitional programs are also discussed.

AB - This article presents empirical research exploring adult students' transition to higher education (HE) through a program designed to enable that transition. Wenger's Communities of Practice theory has been applied to informal adult learning by Merriam, Courtenay, and Baumgartner (2003), who suggested its potential for understanding formal education. Using this theoretical framework, adults' transition to HE is explored in terms of learning, participation in practices, and identity. Students were interviewed, and qualitative data analysis revealed that although they perceived themselves to be peripheral participants in the community, university regulations, and academic procedures sometimes undermined their feelings of legitimacy. Their experiences of the community's practices were mediated by individual, shifting identities and a sense of belonging. Their experiences are discussed in terms of the power of practice to include or exclude, and the concomitant identity shifts which may lead to fuller participation. Implications for the design of transitional programs are also discussed.

KW - Adult Learning

KW - Communities of Practice

KW - Educational Transitions

KW - Higher Education

KW - Identity

KW - Nontraditional Students

KW - Participation

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=34547214718&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1177/0741713607302686

DO - 10.1177/0741713607302686

M3 - Article

VL - 57

SP - 312

EP - 328

JO - Adult Education Quarterly

JF - Adult Education Quarterly

SN - 0741-7136

IS - 4

ER -