Spaces of inclusion and belonging: The learning imaginaries of doctoral students in a multi-campus and distance university

Lucila Carvalho, Cristina Garduno Freeman, Alison Kearney, Mandia Mentis, Roberto Martinez-Maldonado

Abstract


Doctoral studies are often described as solitary and challenging endeavors, dependent on candidates’ highly developed skills, self-driven nature, and commitment to engage in years of research activity. A range of university initiatives are specially crafted to support higher research degree students, for example, through digital and physical resources, workshops, group gatherings, and others. Our project examines what constitutes significant places for learning and experiences of inclusion amongst doctoral students, and ways of capturing and sharing these experiences with those learning at distance and on university campuses. Our focus is on connections between social values and the built environment, and on developing ways of expressing these values through students’ representations of places for learning. This paper reports on interviews with doctoral students’ discussing their connections to on-campus and distance places for learning – within the digital and physical landscapes of a multi-campus university, with provision for both, internal and distance students. Our findings reveal the ways doctoral students navigate the digital and physical realms of university spaces, the places they inhabit and value, their attachments to things, and how these, in turn, influence their feelings of inclusion, belonging, and learning purpose.


Keywords


doctoral students; learning spaces; inclusive education

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.4483

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