Beginning, becoming and belonging: using liminal spaces to explore how part-time adult learners negotiate emergent identities when embarking on undergraduate online study

Johnson, Kara (2022). Beginning, becoming and belonging: using liminal spaces to explore how part-time adult learners negotiate emergent identities when embarking on undergraduate online study. Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 24(2) pp. 7–29.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5456/wpll.24.2.7

Abstract

Using the concept of liminal spaces, this paper discusses findings from a study exploring the experiences of fifteen adults as they negotiate their identity as online learners during the first module on a part-time undergraduate degree programme. Online programmes enable adult learners with diverse backgrounds and responsibilities to choose when and how they study and therefore make decisions of how their aspirations are best met. The convenience and flexibility of these hybrid spaces enables them to take control of their learning. However, such benefits are reliant upon negotiating new ideas, technologies, constructs of learning and emergent identities which may sit at the counterpoint of existing roles, responsibilities and experiences. For some, this period of transition can consequently be characterised by disorientation and liminality. The findings presented here provide new insights into the experiences of adults who choose to study online, highlighting the extent of the entanglement between their emergent identities and personal lifeworld. I explore the interplay of the factors which shape these early encounters and, using a narrative approach, examine how identities are forged, how the opportunities and challenges presented by online spaces are negotiated, and the importance of a sense of belonging. This approach contributes to the growing field of online research methods through an innovative use of online reflective journals and Skype interviews and further extends the writing on liminality into online spaces. Although the data for this study was collected and analysed before the COVID-19 pandemic, I examine what we, as educator-researchers, can learn from these narratives and how this might inform our professional practice in the COVID-19 context.

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About

  • Item ORO ID
  • 84374
  • Item Type
  • Journal Item
  • ISSN
  • 1466-6529
  • Keywords
  • inquiry; liminal spaces; narrative; online learning; part-time study; transitions
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Law
    Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2022 Ingenta
  • SWORD Depositor
  • Jisc Publications-Router
  • Depositing User
  • Jisc Publications-Router

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