Higher Education Research & Development
Taylor and Francis
School of Medical and Health Science
Edith Cowan University - Open Access Support Scheme
This article argues the insufficiency of the traditional application of cultural, social and economic capital in conceptualising the non-traditional student experience. Built on the thematic analysis of 52 in-depth interviews with 28 mature-age women nursing undergraduates with family responsibilities in Australia, an alternative, expanded model of capital is proposed.
The qualitative study, underpinned by Gadamer’s Hermeneutic Philosophy, revealed multiple threats and enablers to progression throughout the degree. Dimensions of capital previously unacknowledged in the nursing literature were necessary to fully conceptualise these rich and complex findings, including important student strengths. These dimensions: aspirational, navigational, resistant, familial and experiential capital, compensated when traditional dimensions were lacking, or incongruent with university expectations. This longitudinal study further revealed how the availability and importance of capital altered with the changing curriculum and participants’ personal growth.
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