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Coffee, Milk and a Sprinkling
of Sand
An Initiative to Assist Non-traditional,
Mature Students form Supportive Networks
in...
Overview
Contextualising the study
Working with the visual
The World Technique
Ethical qualitative inquiry
Written in...
Complex and Divided Land
The distinctiveness of Wales, in terms of
its political life and culture, has grown
considerably...
Divided Wales
Between 1945 and 1980 the income
differential between individuals in Wales
narrowed- since 1980 the gap bet...
Anatomy of Economic Inequality in
Wales (Davies et al, 2011)
 Significant gaps in attainment related to
indicators of rel...
Mature Students in HE
Psychological consequences of spatial
positioning of ‘border crosser’ (Lucey et
al 2003)
Classed, ...
Visual Methodologies
Previous engagement with the visual
(Mannay 2010; 2013)
Making the familiar strange (Delamont
and A...
Visual Journeys
The World Technique
 Sand therapy - NOT Freudian or Jungian
 Lowenfeld (1939) – ‘world technique’
 Do not attempt to in...
The Study
Participants created three-dimensional
scenes, pictures or abstract designs in a
tray filled with sand and a ra...
Psychoanalytically Informed
 Should we take psychoanalysis outside of the clinical
situation of the ‘consulting room’? (F...
Isolation in the Academy
They were all the
same and were
friends and I was just
this sort of strange
entity in the lectur...
Knowledge and Support
Maybe it’s having access to a key
individual that keeps people going?
Work Life Balance
I partially buried her
because she’s like in
quick sand, because
there’s too much for
one person to do
...
Coffee Club
Actioning the affective
Just to say thank you for this morning.
I always find the meetings useful, and
somet...
Project Summary
The ‘world technique’ can elicit affective
accounts of interior life worlds
Isolation, lack of knowledge...
Concluding Thoughts
 Lowenfeld (1950, 325) writes, ‘I am anxious that my
whole research and therapeutic method, of which ...
References
 Davies, R., Drinkwater, S., Joll, C., Jones, M., Lloyd-Williams, H., Makepeace, J., Parhi, M., Parken, A.,
Ro...
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Coffee, milk and a sprinkling of sand: an initiative to assist non-traditional, mature students form supportive networks in higher education

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Presentation at 2014 FACE conference: Collaborate to Widen Participation: to, through and beyond Higher Education

Title: Coffee, Milk and a Sprinkling of Sand: An Initiative to Assist Non-traditional, Mature Students form Supportive Networks in Higher Education

Abstract

Non-traditional, mature students face a number of complex psychological and structural barriers to higher education and their journeys are often characterised by initial aspirations and later disappointments, when classed, gendered and relational positionings conflict with students’ identities and contribute to their withdrawal from academia. It is not enough to chart these difficulties; rather we need to seek opportunities to create a more inclusive environment so that we do not simply widen access at the point of entry but ensure that mature, non-traditional students complete their undergraduate study.

In response to this challenge, the research project explored the student experience by asking non-traditional students to engage with innovative and reflexive process of sandboxing. This approach was developed drawing on the ‘world technique’ in which individuals create three-dimensional scenes, pictures or abstract designs in a tray filled with sand and a range of miniature, realistic and fantasy, figures and everyday objects. This presentation will discuss the usefulness of the sandboxing technique as a tool of qualitative research as well a reflecting on the associated difficulties with the method.

There will also be a focus of the themes that arose from the data production process; and these will be explored in relation to the ways in which institutions can work meet the needs of non-traditional students. In particular the paper focuses on a Coffee Club initiative that was set up in response to the feelings of isolation reported by participants in the study; which offered an opportunity to build a supportive peer network. In this way, the research draws on the affective accounts of participants to influence policy and best practice; aiming to improve student experience for marginalised cohorts and to engender retention and success in their transfer to Higher Education.

Published in: Education
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Coffee, milk and a sprinkling of sand: an initiative to assist non-traditional, mature students form supportive networks in higher education

  1. 1. Coffee, Milk and a Sprinkling of Sand An Initiative to Assist Non-traditional, Mature Students form Supportive Networks in Higher Education Dawn Mannay and Victoria Edwards Cardiff University
  2. 2. Overview Contextualising the study Working with the visual The World Technique Ethical qualitative inquiry Written in the sand Findings and actions
  3. 3. Complex and Divided Land The distinctiveness of Wales, in terms of its political life and culture, has grown considerably over the last decade. Nevertheless, beneath the imagery of the definitive nation, Wales remains a complex and divided land (Mackay 2010)
  4. 4. Divided Wales Between 1945 and 1980 the income differential between individuals in Wales narrowed- since 1980 the gap between rich and poor has widened Increase in social and spatial polarisation Divide through geographical distribution ‘Los Angelization’ of socio-economic terrain demonstrated in the creation of new ghettos of prosperity and poverty
  5. 5. Anatomy of Economic Inequality in Wales (Davies et al, 2011)  Significant gaps in attainment related to indicators of relative poverty  GCSE pupils entitled to free school meals were two and a half times less likely to attain grades A-C  Social housing residents were 10 times less likely to be graduates compared other types of accommodation  Living in poverty, reliable predictor of educational attainment and related opportunities in the employment market
  6. 6. Mature Students in HE Psychological consequences of spatial positioning of ‘border crosser’ (Lucey et al 2003) Classed, gendered and relational positionings can conflict with mature students education trajectory and often contributed to their withdrawal from academia (Mannay 2013; Mannay and Morgan 2013)
  7. 7. Visual Methodologies Previous engagement with the visual (Mannay 2010; 2013) Making the familiar strange (Delamont and Atkinson 1995) Defamiliarisation Power and participatory methods Auteur theory (Rose 2001) Unforeseen disclosures and ethical dilemmas (Mannay 2011)
  8. 8. Visual Journeys
  9. 9. The World Technique  Sand therapy - NOT Freudian or Jungian  Lowenfeld (1939) – ‘world technique’  Do not attempt to interpret the symbolism of the world but rather wait for the meanings to be identified by the child, ‘in recognition of the multiplicity of meanings the world may contain’  Figures in the sand tray become a primary vehicle for intra-personal and inter-personal communication, where ‘each figure holds unique and personal meaning for individuals’
  10. 10. The Study Participants created three-dimensional scenes, pictures or abstract designs in a tray filled with sand and a range of miniature, realistic and fantasy, figures; and everyday objects to reflect their educational experience Elicitation interviews – auteur theory Engage participants at the level of affect
  11. 11. Psychoanalytically Informed  Should we take psychoanalysis outside of the clinical situation of the ‘consulting room’? (Frosh 2010)  Should we be engaging with a psychoanalytically informed technique in the absence of a trained therapist?  Explore the boundaries sensitive topics (Dickson-Swift 2006)  For Lowenfeld (1950), the action of making worlds can in itself begin the process of amelioration in the disturbances and discomforts  Interior experience persists throughout the life course and is of profound importance but has so far been insufficiently studied  It is this aspect of the interior life that the ‘world technique’ can elicit
  12. 12. Isolation in the Academy They were all the same and were friends and I was just this sort of strange entity in the lecture theatre You feel quite isolated
  13. 13. Knowledge and Support Maybe it’s having access to a key individual that keeps people going?
  14. 14. Work Life Balance I partially buried her because she’s like in quick sand, because there’s too much for one person to do I had to some how be a magician to keep everyone happy
  15. 15. Coffee Club Actioning the affective Just to say thank you for this morning. I always find the meetings useful, and sometimes positively therapeutic! Thank you for your kind words and support. What you've organised is wonderful!
  16. 16. Project Summary The ‘world technique’ can elicit affective accounts of interior life worlds Isolation, lack of knowledge and support, work overload Affective accounts can initiate action Coffee club – opportunity for building support networks, sharing problems and solutions, being with people ‘like me’
  17. 17. Concluding Thoughts  Lowenfeld (1950, 325) writes, ‘I am anxious that my whole research and therapeutic method, of which this equipment is part, should not be misunderstood or distorted when part of the equipment is borrowed and adapted for a different purpose’.  We hope that Lowenfeld would see this development as respectful to her original work; and see its potential as a tool of qualitative inquiry; to extend the parameters of visual methods, to fight familiarity, to engage with subjective worlds of participants, and ultimately to contribute to informed policy initiatives.
  18. 18. References  Davies, R., Drinkwater, S., Joll, C., Jones, M., Lloyd-Williams, H., Makepeace, J., Parhi, M., Parken, A., Robinson, C., Taylor, C. and Wass, V. (2011) Anatomy of Economic Inequality in Wales, Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research Data and Methods, Research Report Series WISERD/RSS/002.  Delamont, S. and Atkinson, P. (1995) Fighting Familiarity: Essays on Education and Ethnography. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.  Dickson-Swift, V., James, E. L., Kippen, S. and Liamputtong, P. 2006. Blurring boundaries in qualitative health research on sensitive topics. Qualitative Health Research, 16 (6): 853-871  Frosh, S. 2010. Psychoanalysis outside the clinic: interventions in psychosocial studies. Basingstoke: Macmillan.  Lowenfeld, M 1979. The world technique. London: Allen and Uwin Press  Mackay, H. (2010). ‘Rugby – an introduction to contemporary Wales’ in Mackay, H. (ed.) Understanding Contemporary Wales, Milton Keynes: The Open University.  Lucey, H., Melody, J. and Walkerdine, V. (2003). Uneasy hybrids: psychological aspects of becoming educationally successful for working-class young women. Gender and education, 15 (3): 285-299.  Mannay, D. (2010) ‘Making the Familiar Strange: Can Visual Research Methods Render the Familiar Setting more Perceptible?’, Qualitative Research 10 (1): 91-111.  Mannay, D. (2013a) ‘Keeping Close and Spoiling: Exploring Discourses of Social Reproduction and the Impossibility of Negotiating Change and Maintaining Continuity in Urban south Wales’, Gender and Education. 25 (1): 91-107.  Mannay, D. (2013b). ‘Who put that on there... why why why?:’ Power games and participatory techniques of visual data production. Visual Studies, 28 (2): 136-146  Mannay, D. and Morgan, M. (2013) ‘Anatomies of Inequality: Considering the emotional cost of aiming higher for marginalised, mature mothers re-entering education’, Journal of Adult and Continuing Education 19 (1): 57-75.

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