Nr. 26/2012 Students' Narratives, Negotiations, and Choices
The doctoral dissertation is based upon a longitudinal qualitative study in which 38 students’ choices of higher education in general and science, engineering and mathematics (STEM) study programmes in particular are investigated. In particular, 20 of the students who encountered a STEM study programme are followed in their transition‐process into first year. Narrative psychology provides a platform for understanding students' choices, transition and decisions of staying or leaving as a social temporal process of constructing an attractive identity. This approach highlights the importance of contextualizing students' choices as rationalized narratives in time. The analysis shows how some of the students' find it difficult to match their expectations of higher education STEM with their ideas of an attractive identity, why they choose not to consider studying it after upper secondary school. The students who do choose to study STEM at higher education all encounter a gap between their expectations and their actual experiences. In particular, some find it hard to make sense of and relate themselves to the academic content. In this process some of the students struggle with finding it meaningful to stay. In the general discussion and conclusions implications for higher education institutions are considered in terms of how to support students in making meaningful STEM‐identities.
This doctoral dissertation is part of an European project IRIS funded by the EU, Seventh Framework Programme.
Author: Henriette Tolstrup Holmegaard, Department of Science Education, University of Copenhagen.
IND's skriftserie no. 26/2012