CGHE Webinar 226

What do students do in higher education? Researching higher education as students’ academic self-formation

Date: Thursday, 15 July 2021 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Location: Zoom webinar
Speaker(s):
  • Soyoung Lee, University of Oxford

Event Materials

This event is now archived and we are pleased to provide the following event media and assets, along with the original event overview.

What is higher education? What is a university for? Dominant answers for these questions involve the formation of students. However, they often ironically exclude students from the process of student development. In human capital approaches, for instance, students develop according to the flow of social reproduction through higher education. This deprives students of their ability to reflexively navigate their own ways and augment themselves as they want. However, isn’t it the students themselves who do the learning and who decide what to do with what they learn in higher education? No matter how grandiose goals others (e.g., teachers, institutions, and societies) have for them?

The self-forming, not other-formed, students deliberately choose to attend higher education and learn specialised knowledge as a part of their personal projects. Based on Archer’s conceptualisation of reflexive agency, higher education as academic self-formation puts students’ reflexive agency at the centre and their desired self at the end of higher education. With its normative nature, self-formation can draw many ‘yes’ from the field. However, to empower this empowering concept, academic self-formation should be further elaborated by both conceptual and empirical investigations. My doctoral research is one of the attempts.

In this seminar, I will conceptually articulate what academic self-formation is by working with psychological theories. Then, how students creatively transform themselves through knowledge engagement and international mobility will be explained by using empirical data from local and international South Korean students.

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