Capacitating student aspirations in classrooms and communities of a high-poverty region

Capacitating student aspirations in classrooms and communities of a high-poverty region

This research identifies resources for student aspiration in a high poverty area, and strategies for capacitating them. It expands understanding of how students’ aspirations take form and where to look for them in their cultural and educational lives. This is investigated in three data sites: ethnographies with students’ families; futures scenario work in classrooms; and dialogue across school, family and community members. The research is significant in addressing current 21st century challenges for the difficult equity problems of school completion, higher education access, and richer life pathways for traditionally disadvantaged groups. In so doing, it expands the conceptual and methodological tools for aspirations policy and research.

PI and Co-PIs - International Collaborators

Lew Zipin – Victoria University, Australia

Marie Brennan – Victoria University, Australia

Trevor Gale – Deakin University

Sam Sellar – The University of Queensland


Start and End Date

1 January 2012 to 31 December 2014


Funder and Funding Amount

Australian Research Council, $180,000


Related Publications

Journal articles:

Zipin, L., Sellar, S., Brennan, M. & Gale, T. (2015) Educating for futures in marginalized regions: A sociological framework for rethinking and researching aspirations. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 47(3), pp. 227-246

Conference papers:

Gale, T., Zipin, L. & Bok, J. (2014) Immigrant student and parent strategies towards social-educational futures: analysing the complexities behind ‘simple’ expressions of aspiration. Paper presented at the American Education Research Association (AERA) Conference, Philadelphia, USA, 3-7 April 2014.

Gale, T., Zipin, L. & Bok, J. (2013) Educational strategies of immigrant students and their families: diagnosing the complexities behind ‘simple' expressions of aspiration for futures. Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) annual international conference, Adelaide, Australia, 1-5 December 2013.

Zipin, L., Sellar, S., Brennan, M. & Gale, T. (2012) Aspirations for futures as a complex formation among students in high-poverty regions. Paper presented in the symposium “Theorising and researching aspirations among young people in difficult spaces and times” at the Joint Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE), the Asia-Pacific Education Research Association (APERA), and the World Education Research Association (WERA) Focal Meeting, Sydney, Australia, 2-6 December 2012

Zipin, L., Sellar, S., Brennan, M. & Gale, T. (2012) The effects of social context on education: Researching aspirations for education and the future in a high-poverty region. Paper presented at the American Education Research Association (AERA) Conference, Vancouver, Canada, April

Zipin, L., Sellar, S., Brennan, M. & Gale, T. (2011) Researching funds of aspiration: Capacitating alternative futures in low-SES classrooms and communities. Paper presented in the symposium “Pursuing equity in the context of expanding global higher education” at the Annual International Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education, Hobart, Australia, 27 November – 1 December 2011

Zipin, L., Brennan, M., Sellar, S. & Gale, T. (2011) Rethinking equity policy in education: Exploring the politics of ‘aspiration’. Paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), Conference of the European Educational Research Association (EERA), Berlin, Germany, 13-16 September


Associated blogs or Twitter feeds

@trevagale