The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

The Use of Digital Storytelling to Promote First Year Student Engagement and Successful Transition into University

Subethra Pather, University of the Western Cape (South Africa)

Trevor Moodley, University of the Western Cape (South Africa)


This explorative study takes an in-depth look into two first year students’ experiences as they transition into university. Digital Storytelling (DST) was used as a methodological tool to gain a better understanding of student diversity, identities and their academic and social engagements at university.  Digital storytelling is a multimedia activity that can help students to construct their own knowledge and reflect on their own experiences in new ways. It possesses unique narrative qualities that center on the students’ identities as they make meaning of their new university experiences. In this study the DST methodology was employed to gain a better understanding of the incoming students’ diverse backgrounds and its influence on their university engagement and transition. The DST exercise resulted in the production of short three to five minute videos in which first year students reflected on their engagement and transition to university. The students’ narratives described personal and meaningful moments of change in their lives as first year students at university, while reflecting on their past and considering their future. This paper focuses on only two students’ digital stories, which were analysed from a constructivist perspective and employed an interpretive research approach. Bourdieu’s thinking tools of habitus, capital and field was used to investigate how the two students’ constructed and negotiated their first year university engagement and transition. This study reveals that the use of DST can be a useful tool for academic and support staff to gain a better understand of who are the first year students entering their institutions, what are their realities and how best can they plan initiatives to promote and support student diversity, and social and academic engagement so as to enhance a successful university transition at first year level.

Keywords First Year Transition, Student Identities, Diversity, Student Engagement, First Year Experience  

[1] Lambert, J. (2013). Digital storytelling: Capturing lives, creating community. London, UK:
[2] Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. G. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 241-258). New York: Greenwood Press.

Back to the list


Reserved area

Media Partners:

Click BrownWalker Press logo for the International Academic and Industry Conference Event Calendar announcing scientific, academic and industry gatherings, online events, call for papers and journal articles
Pixel - Via Luigi Lanzi 12 - 50134 Firenze (FI) - VAT IT 05118710481
    Copyright © 2024 - All rights reserved

Privacy Policy