Time and Affect in Talk about ‘Student Experience’ of Higher Education

Norman, Caroline. 2015. Time and Affect in Talk about ‘Student Experience’ of Higher Education. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This is a qualitative exploratory study that uses focus groups and arts-based research to examine students’ talk about their experiences at one higher education institution (HEI) in London, UK. The study investigates the development and impact of a market-driven approach to HEIs including social policy discourses and measures of student experience, such as the National Student Survey (NSS). These constructions of student experience are examined with regard to narrative accounts given by undergraduate and postgraduate students of their everyday lives within the study university.

Drawing from critical feminist scholarship into experience and adopting a relational approach and a psychosocial view of the self, this thesis proposes alternative temporal and affective understandings of student lives that are frequently marginalised within the market-driven discourse of higher education. The thesis describes how the differential and changing identities of students have consequences for their day-to-day lives and relationships in ways that are not captured by neo-liberal appraisals and metrics.

The findings of the thesis contribute to sociological knowledge and debates on student experience by bringing into dialogue market-driven discourses and other fields of knowledge, such as student mental health research that constitutes a frequently marginalised facet of student life. The discussion contends that student ‘satisfaction’ does not necessarily equate with student or educational well-being and this conclusion has wider implications for the ways in which student experience is recognised and assessed.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



Higher Education, Student Experience, Time, Affect, Focus Groups, Mapping, Sociology

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



31 December 2015

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

04 Feb 2016 16:56

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 11:36



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