Friendship as method: reflections on a new approach to understanding student experiences in higher education

HERON, Emma (2019). Friendship as method: reflections on a new approach to understanding student experiences in higher education. Journal of further and higher education.

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This article reflects on a novel method to elicit understanding of students’ journeys. At a time when universities need to know much more about their students, sector understanding runs the risk of being limited and rather shallow. Knowledge tends to rely on broad-brush descriptions of student life derived from surveys, questionnaires and student voice committees whilst conventional qualitative research methods into student experiences have has limitations. ‘Harder listening’ to student voices offers the opportunity to understand everyday student life better. Taking inspiration from StoryCorps in the USA and BBC Radio 4’s The Listening Project, student friendship pairs undertake recorded, private, guided conversations without a researcher present. Conventional ‘friendship’ research fails to use ‘friendship trust’ between participantsto unlock experiences. Ten pairs of students based at a large university in the North of England participated. Analysis of the conversations suggests that happiness, confidence and a sense of belonging at university are significantly affected by the role and presence of friends and family. Through their engagement with and reflection on this method, students reveal familiarity with being ‘under-heard’ and over-surveyed and welcome this approach as a sign of a caring and ‘listening university’.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: ** From Crossref via Jisc Publications Router **Journal IDs: pissn 0309-877X; eissn 1469-9486 **History: published 21-01-2019
Uncontrolled Keywords: Education
Identification Number:
SWORD Depositor: Margaret Boot
Depositing User: Margaret Boot
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2019 15:41
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 00:04

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