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Hernandez-Martinez (2016) Alienation and drop out.pdf (184.11 kB)

'Lost in transition': alienation and drop out during the transition to mathematically-demanding subjects at university

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-03-22, 11:51 authored by Paul Hernandez-Martinez
This paper explores the reasons why some previously engaged students drop out during their transition to mathematically-demanding university degrees. The concept of alienation is used to explain drop out: alienation occurs when social practices restrict the individuals' agency in such ways that they are unable to transform the social conditions in which they participate, even though they might place a great effort in doing so, hence becoming alienated objectively and subjectively. So, for instance, engineering students that see themselves as 'practical', find that the theoretical/academic practice of university mathematics becomes irrelevant to their aspirations and ways of learning, i.e. alien to their identity as learners. The impossibility of changing this situation becomes recognised and results in their drop out.


This research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council grants RES-000-22-2890 and RES-062-23-1213. We would also like to acknowledge their continued support to further disseminate results through the follow-on ESRC grant RES-189-25-0235.



  • Science


  • Mathematics Education Centre

Published in

International Journal of Educational Research


HERNANDEZ-MARTINEZ, P., 2016. 'Lost in transition': alienation and drop out during the transition to mathematically-demanding subjects at university. International Journal of Educational Research, 79, pp. 231-239.


© Elsevier


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



This paper was accepted for publication in the journal International Journal of Educational Research and the definitive published version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijer.2016.02.005.




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