Capacitating student aspirations in classrooms and communities of a high-poverty region
Students who live in poor areas are often assumed to have low aspirations, particularly to go to university and to aim for jobs that require a higher education. In this project we began our research from the standpoint of students themselves rather than that of governments, employers or universities. We worked with students in high poverty areas of Melbourne, Australia, to identify their own aspirations for the futures they valued and to build their capacities to achieve those aspirations.
Researching alongside students as co-producers of knowledge, our research expanded understandings of how students’ aspirations take form and where to look for them in their cultural and educational lives. Three sources of data informed our work: ethnographies with students’ families; futures scenario work in classrooms; and dialogue across school, family and community members.
In a context of 21st century challenges of school completion and higher education access for traditionally disadvantaged groups, our research points to different ways of addressing student aspirations, which put more onus on governments and institutions to expand what they regard as worthy aspirations for the future and to create richer life pathways for traditionally disadvantaged groups. The research also expands the conceptual and methodological tools for future aspirations policy and research.
PI and Co-Is - International Collaborators
Dr Lew Zipin – Victoria University, Australia
Prof Marie Brennan – Victoria University, Australia
Prof Trevor Gale – University of Glasgow, School of Education
Prof Sam Sellar – University of South Australia
Start and End Date
1 January 2012 to 31 December 2014
Funder and Funding Amount
Australian Research Council, $AU180,000
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. (doi:10.1080/00131857.2013.839376)
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.
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.
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.
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.