Diversity and achievement: Is success in higher education a transformative experience?

Authors: Robyn Benson, Margaret Heagney, Lesley Hewitt, Glenda Crosling and Anita Devos; Monash University

Summary:  This paper reports on a longitudinal project examining how a group of students from diverse backgrounds succeeded in higher education. The project explored participants’ pathways into higher education, how they managed their studies, and their reflections at course completion. In this paper, the concept of perspective transformation is used to consider the extent to which their success in higher education was a transformative experience. Data from the project’s first stage identified the role of perspective transformation in influencing participants’ pathways to higher education, while here we focus on the impact of their university study on perspective transformation, comparing evidence of transformative experiences during study with those that led to enrolment. Analysis of participants’ reflections at course completion indicated that higher education success was a transformative experience for most of them and that perspective transformation affected more participants during study than before it. Participants identified several aspects of the course that contributed to the changes experienced in their perspectives. We consider some implications for university staff, which may help others involved with students from diverse backgrounds.

Keywords: Higher education, perspective transformation, transformative learning, student diversity, student success


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This article is part of AJAL, Volume 54_2. The entire volume is available in .pdf for purchase here.

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