Adult Learners in a Research University: Negotiating Undergraduate Student Identity

Kasworm, Carol E.
February 2010
Adult Education Quarterly;Feb2010, Vol. 60 Issue 2, p143
Academic Journal
Adult undergraduate student identities at research extensive universities were uniquely coconstructed, shaped by this selective and competitive youth-oriented cultural context. Drawing upon social constructivist theory, this study explored this coconstruction through positional and relational adult student identities. Positional identities were coconstructed through negotiating academic acceptance in meeting demanding academic challenges and through facing otherness as a mature adult. These adults also viewed their positional identity based in an evolving sense of agency to academically succeed through goal oriented efforts, as well as through their adult maturity and life experiences. These adults articulated relational identities predominantly based in faculty's tacit or explicit academic acceptance of them in one of four types of relationships. This study suggests that the adult undergraduate student identity is multi-layered, multi-sourced, evolving, and at times, paradoxical in beliefs of self, position, relationships, and learning contexts within the research extensive university setting.


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