The Mature Student Experience in Higher Education: From the Horse's Mouth

By Jennifer Briedenhann.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper presents the findings of exploratory research into the special needs of mature students and their perception of the appropriateness of academic support and guidance in overcoming the constraints to academic learning imposed by the challenges they encounter. Since the study sought to gain a more profound understanding of the research topic, a qualitative approach using in-depth interviews was adopted as the most appropriate method in affording respondents the freedom to introduce issues, determine the content of the discussion and provide information they perceived as important to the topic. Findings indicate that there is a need for greater understanding of, and empathy for, the special needs of mature students. The study thus argues that if Higher Education institutions intend to pursue mature student applications they must accept the onus of ensuring that the unique circumstances and needs of these students are recognised, and empower academic staff to step beyond the boundaries imposed by the traditional lecturer role in addressing the needs and concerns of adults who are unaccustomed either to fulfilling the role of, or being treated as, students.

Keywords: Mature Students, Special Needs, Academic Support, Lecturer Empowerment, The Student Experience

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp.265-274. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 529.008KB).

Dr. Jennifer Briedenhann

Senior Lecturer/Tourism Course Leader, Faculty of Enterprise and Innovation, School of Sport, Leisure and Tourism, Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, UK

Dr Briedenhann spent 20 years at the coal-face of the South African tourism industry. She was the founding Managing Director of the Tourism Education and Training Authority of South Africa and founding CEO of the Mpumalanga Tourism Authority. Her interest in academia was kindled by a five year stint lecturing at Technikon Natal in Durban. Dr Briedenhann received her PhD from Brunel University in the United Kingdom. She currently lives and lectures in the UK. She has presented papers at conferences internationally and is widely published. Her special research interests include rural tourism; pro-poor tourism; the public sector role in the governance of tourism; cultural tourism; the evaluation of tourism development projects; the mature student experience; the use of Action Learning in personal growth and development; Appreciative Enquiry as a means of facilitating community-based participatory processes


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