Investigating students’ perspectives of learning and participating in seminars using a Bourdieuian perspective

Fufy Demissie


The purpose of this paper is to articulate how a Bourdieuian perspective contributed to the insights I gained about student teacher’s experiences of seminars.  The rationale for the study relates to the limited nature of students involvement and participation in seminars I experienced in my teaching.  However, I found little in the student literature that problematised students’ learning context, and in particular, the way students themselves experienced and perceived this particular learning context.    I undertook three in-depth semi-structured interviews with 5 teacher education students at different points of their 2nd year of study.

The data highlighted the complexity and dynamic nature of this learning context.  Relationships, pedagogical tools and artefacts appeared to play an important meditational role in what participants did and thought about their experiences during seminars. However, the data also suggested evidence of underlying discourses that seem to influence how the participants constructed their experiences of seminars.  Good seminars seem to reflect the’ education as transmission’ and the’ good practice’ discourses that tend colour cultural meanings about teaching and learning.   By using Bourdieu’s theory of practice, and in particular his theory of symbolic violence, I was able to gain a deeper insights into the meanings attached to seminar experiences, as well as new ways of thinking about my own values, practice and role as a tutor/lecturer in higher education.



seminars; student experience; Bourdieu

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