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African Higher Education Research Online - Students make a plan: understanding student agency in constraining conditions

   

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Students make a plan: understanding student agency in constraining conditions

Brown, Cheryl; Czerniewicz, Laura; Williams, Kevin

Abstract:
This paper explains situations where students in varied, challenging circumstances find ways to negotiate difficult conditions. It reports findings of a study on student access and use of technology in three universities selected from three South African provinces in 2007, drawing on Archer’s perspectives on the agency / structure relationship. Using a survey design, it addressed inter-related questions on access and use. The findings are that on campus access is generally reported favourably, and off-campus access is problematic and uneven. There is a cluster of students using their cell phones to access the Internet, and using their cell phones for academic purposes, and this is true across socio-economic groups. Also, the choices and strategies students are prepared to make and use in order to engage online or access the Internet to support their studies are given. Archer's nuanced approach to agency and structure help us begin to make sense of the way that students exhibit a more complex and nuanced way of engaging with the availability of different kinds of technologies, as well as making considered decisions about using ubiquitous technologies in unexpected ways and for purposes for which they may not have been intended. Her concept of reflexivity provides a way of describing how those choices are made in relation to structural conditions and enables us to explain how students are "persons" showing an inventive capacity to circumvent the constraints imposed by structures.

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Title of Paper: Students make a plan: understanding student agency in constraining conditions
Conference Name: ALT-C 2008 - Rethinking the Digital Divide
Conference Date: 2008-09-09
Published as Proceedings: yes


Date:2008
Document Type:Conference Paper (Peer Reviewed)
Subject Area:Students
Country:South Africa
Keywords:Access, Students, ICT (Information & Communication Technology), Higher Education, South African Universities, South Africa


File Size:297 KB
Rights:Self archived
Date Added:13 February 2009


Brown, Cheryl; Czerniewicz, Laura; Williams, Kevin (2008) Students make a plan: understanding student agency in constraining conditions. Paper presented at the ALT-C 2008 - Rethinking the Digital Divide, 9-11 September

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