Combining words and drawings, the better to understand students’ lived experiences




Transitions, higher education, retention


This case study presents and interprets two data sets – interviews and line drawings – about barriers to learning in the HE context, as seen from the student perspective. Eleven undergraduate students participated in this exploratory study, which took place at a United Kingdom higher education (HE) institution. The findings help reveal to the reader the lived experiences of students and present opportunities to consider intervention practices that can be used to support student transition from further education (FE) into HE. This case study also discusses how to collect and use this mixed data set and highlights how employing this method promotes student voice. Researchers may find that the approach may be applicable to their own project design.

Author Biography

Poppy Frances Gibson, Anglia Ruskin University

Course Lead and Senior Lecturer in Primary Education


Bauman, Z. (2004) Identity: Conversations with Benedetto Vecchi. Cambridge: Polity Press. ISBN: 0745633099

dos Santos Boni, R.A., Paiva, C.E., De Oliveira, M.A., Lucchetti, G., Fregnani, J.H.T.G. and Paiva, B.S.R. (2018) ‘Burnout among medical students during the first years of undergraduate school: Prevalence and associated factors.’ PloS one, 13(3), p.e0191746. Available at: (Accessed: 27 October 2022).

Farokhi, M. and Hashemi, M. (2011) ‘The Analysis of Children's Drawings: Social, Emotional, Physical, and Psychological aspects.’ Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. 30, 2219-2224. Available at: (Accessed: 27 October 2022).

Gibson, P., Perera, S., Morgan, R. and Kerr, B. (2019) ‘Creating conditions for student success on a two-year accelerated degree.’ Compass: Journal of Learning and Teaching, 12(1). Available at: (Accessed: 10 September 2022).

Goffman, E. (1959) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. NY: The Overlook Press. ISBN: 0385094027

Lawler, S. (2014) Identity. London: Polity Press. ISBN: 0745654169

O’Neil, D. (2006) ‘Human Culture: What is Culture?’ Available at: (Accessed: 27 October 2022).

Pietkiewicz, I. and Smith, J.A. (2012) ‘A practical guide to using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis in qualitative research psychology: Praktyczny przewodnik interpretacyjnej analizy fenomenologicznej w badaniach jakościowych w psychologii. Czasopismo Psychologiczne, 18(2), 361-369. Available at: (Accessed: 27 October 2022).

Smith, J.A., Harré, R. and Van Langenhove, L. (1995) ‘Idiography.’ In: Smith, J.A., Harré R. and Van Langenhove, L. Rethinking Psychology. London: Sage. (pp. 56-69). ISBN: 9780803977334

Smith, J.A., and Osborn, M. (2015) ‘Interpretative phenomenological analysis as a useful methodology for research on the lived experience of pain.’ British Journal of Pain, 9(1), 41-42. Available at: (Accessed: 27 October 2022).

Stryker, S. and Burke, P.J. (2000) ‘The past, present, and future of an identity theory.’ Psychology Quarterly 63, 284-297. Available at: (Accessed: 27 October 2022).






Case Studies