Breaking the class ceiling? A case study of a university mathematics student from a non-academic background. In this paper we report from a case study of a student from non-academic background, who has continued on to study mathematics in higher education. Bourdieu’s concepts of capital, habitus, and field were used to analyse the student’s trajectory into university mathematics, with a particular focus on mathematics specific capital. Data was collected through classroom observations and three semi-structured interviews, over a period of three years. The analysis showed how the student acquired mathematics capital by acting as an informal teaching assistant, thus receiving recognition from both peers and teachers for his mathematical abilities. The longitudinal interviews also demonstrated how the student has continuously been able to expand his social capital related to mathematics and science. We argue that it is important for higher education researchers and teachers to consider disciplinary specific capital, and also to provide students with opportunities to acquire such capital.
Författare: Anna Danielsson