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South African Journal of Higher Education

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Re-visiting, re-thinking, and re-naming ‘educational disadvantage’ in higher education

EM Mgqwashu

Abstract


This article offers a critical reflection upon underlying theoretical and philosophical inclinations which manifest themselves through the type of courses introduced in higher education institutions to meet what is perceived to be students’ educational needs. Given the fact that this article seeks to promote an understanding of the nature of teaching and
learning as a process that requires conscious reflection, articulation, and development of explanations for practitioners’ own choices, Narrative-style interview technique and Grounded Theory (GT) were used as a useful means to collect, conceptualise and organise data. These research methodological choices enabled engagement with
data that allow a generation of theoretical account of the impact of practitioners’ worlds and experiences on curriculum design. Rather than theorising teaching and learning from abstract ideas detached from actual day-to-day classroom experiences, these choices allow for a theorisation that draws from participants’ experience and perceptions in relation to their institutional practices. The research was conducted in
Australia at the University of Sydney’s English Department. Findings suggest that first year students, regardless of their social class or racial backgrounds, are ‘outsiders’ in a university, and therefore equally disadvantaged in terms of their access to academic and various disciplinary discourses. The article concludes that the notion of ‘educational disadvantage’ within higher education can no longer be used as a euphemistic way of referring to a particular race and/or class among tertiary education students.



http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sajhe.v23i4.51067
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