How to be a student: Students who identify as Aboriginal and their experiences mediating identities at university
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The university habitus is not comprised of neutral structures but carries with it a history of privileging certain ways of doing, learning and being. Students who identify as Aboriginal draw from a number of identities at the University that become more or less relevant depending on the context. In this narrative study, seven students who identify as Aboriginal are interviewed about their experiences at the University of Saskatchewan. As a result of these interviews, a perspective of the university takes shape where Aboriginal culture welcomes and comforts students in a supporting role but does not always seem relevant in an academic context. Connections to others and to oneself can impact a student’s engagement in classroom curricula and stereotypes about Aboriginal peoples and grades play an important role in shaping the experiences of students who identify as Aboriginal at university, their definition of success and even their decision to attend university. The “narrative of struggle” can influence students’ choices to frame themselves either in relation to a non-Aboriginal reference group or question why Aboriginal educational success is framed in terms of exceptional individual cases rather than as a group norm. While students’ experiences at the university vary, their purpose for attending university is closely connected to their identities both now and their hopes for creating a better self in the future.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
ProgramCulture and Human Development
SupervisorAlexitch, Louise R.
CommitteeWaldram, James B.; Innes, Robert A.
Copyright DateMarch 2014
Aboriginal, First Nations, identities, ASAP, ASC, university, student, culture, structure, agency, curriculum engagement, university experience, ideal self, Indigenous epistemologies, constructionism, narrative.