Failing with student success

the hidden role of bad luck and false empowerment

Robert Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Conventional wisdom encourages educators to cultivate student success by creating expectations among students, with the intention of boosting motivation and empowerment. If students feel that their learning is in their hands, they are more likely to fulfil the learning outcomes. But this paper argues that vulnerable or sensitive students are paradoxically disempowered when we insist that success is within their control, because the positive emphasis on willpower denies the agency of luck. The paper first examines the structure of success as defined in practice, by students meeting the learning outcomes. The paper then proposes a history of success, which reveals how much the theme of chance or luck lies at the philological heart of the concept. Matching this historical evidence, the student learning experience–and consequently the success within it–is shown to have ineradicable elements of chance and luck. Finally, the paper discusses how Monash honours the theme of empowerment for the sake of student success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1050-1061
Number of pages12
JournalHigher Education Research and Development
Volume37
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2018

Keywords

  • expectations
  • fortune
  • hope
  • luck
  • retention
  • student empowerment
  • Student success
  • student-centredness
  • success

Cite this

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Failing with student success : the hidden role of bad luck and false empowerment. / Nelson, Robert.

In: Higher Education Research and Development, Vol. 37, No. 5, 29.07.2018, p. 1050-1061.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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