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The first year experience:An exploratory case study from the National Bakery School

Author - Denise Connaughton



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This article presents selected elements from the research findings of a Masterís thesis related to the experiences of first year students on a new degree programme. Data was generated for those elements through questionnaires and focus group discussions. The analytical framework was based on the model devised by Bourdieu (1977), Bourdieu(1986) and Field (2003) which attempts to identify the forms of capital at work in the lives of first year students and the dynamics among these forms of capital. The specific findings of the study were considered by colleagues to be of some discussion and dissemination value in relation to general discourses about retention of first year students generally. Thus this article! The findings of the study indicate that: the social and emotional capital of students relates overwhelmingly to networks external to the first year DIT experience; students were quite clear that knowledge capital and future financial human capital potential were closely related to acquisition of competence and knowledge through their degree; the factors that most students regard as essential for academic success are commitment, self-efficacy and the awareness to benefit from newly acquired skills and competences; students did not see a direct correlation between being a student in the DIT and their personal identity as a young person or individual adult.

Key words: Student Experience; First Year; Induction; Supports; Identity; Social Capital; Cultural Capital

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