Geographies of postgraduate academic exclusions at a South African university: a narrative inquiry.
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The purpose of this inquiry was to examine postgraduate academic exclusions in the School of Education at a University in Kwa-Zulu Natal. This study was guided by Children’s Geographies and New Sociology of Childhood Studies as its theoretical framework. Although this theory has largely been used on research specifically related to children (Barker, J. & Weller, S. 2003), its principles have been creatively applied in this study, in a manner that provides deeper insights in understanding dynamics of academic exclusions in a higher education institution. The theoretical framework helped the study to understand location of postgraduate students in the exclusionary processes of the university (Barker & Weller, 2003). The new sociology of childhood studies (Frones, Jenks & Qvortrup, 2000) helped the study to document the creative and innovative ways through which the academically excluded postgraduate students engaged with their circumstances in order to enhance their chances of being academically included and thus complete their studies. The data generation method adopted standardized, open-ended interviews used in an inquiry process from a purposive sample of six participants (that is, three females and three males). The data generation was separated into three main themes according to which the students narrated their personal stories. The main themes that directed the inquiry were stories that postgraduate students told about their academic exclusion experiences; factors that led to their academic exclusion; and how they navigate and negotiate academic exclusion. The study adopted an interpretivist paradigm which was used to analyse the data. The findings, which emerged, provide an understanding of the intervening circumstances, which have led to the participant’s academic exclusion and the strategies employed by the participants to achieve success with their studies. The study concludes with a discussion regarding the implications and recommendations, which can be considered and perhaps applied by academic institutions to assist them in understanding the phenomenon of postgraduate academic exclusions so that these institutions can develop strategies in addressing postgraduate academic exclusions.