Turning Collective Digital Stories of the First-year Transition to College into a Web of Belonging

Mery Diaz 1 * , Sandra Cheng 1, Karen Goodlad 1, Jennifer Sears 1, Phil Kreniske 2, Ashwin Satyanarayana 1

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp. 67-84

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In this article, we present lessons learned from "Our Stories," a digital writing project designed to assist students in the transition from high school to college. From the collective digital narratives of first-year and first-generation students at an urban public college, who are primarily Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), low-income, and immigrant, and who participated in a First-year Learning Communities course, we examine the challenges of becoming a college student at a public college. Further, we explore how digital writing supports community-building and influences students' transition experience, in particular, making sense of shared challenges. For these BIPOC students, the act of reflecting and writing about their college transition fostered individual and collective awareness and a sense of belonging as they began to negotiate college life. Their narratives also highlight the need for social justice pedagogies that are responsive to student experiences, use asset-based approaches, build community, and promote the active role of students in shaping their educational experiences. 

Keywords: BIPOC Students, Digital Narratives, First-Year College Experience, Public University, Social Justice Pedagogies.