Identity in early higher education A review of research trends on learner identities

Studies investigating the relationship between the learning process and identity has gained a considerable amount of popularity in recent years. This paper presents a review of the literature pertaining to recent studies exploring identities of learners in their first year at a higher education institution with a particular focus on the changes learners go through during adolescence and transition to university. Our review of scholarly articles and reports showed that studies on this issue draws attention to (a) the dynamic, complex, and unpredictable nature of identity, (b) late-adolescence as a period of intense physical, biological, cognitive, and emotional change, and (c) the role of universities in supporting the well-being of learners and preparing them for future transition to working life. The majority of studies reviewed argue that identities are socially constructed and they have various dimensions that can be presented differently over time and space, possibly coexisting in contradictory ways in a single individual. In addition, another consistent finding within our review was that identity processes reach their most complex peak during late adolescence which oftentimes coincide with the period when most learners start their first year at university. We concluded that a deeper understanding of the relationship between the nature of learner identities and transition to higher education will be of paramount importance for both faculty members and administrative boards of universities.
Citation Formats
H. Tarhan and A. C. Karaman, “Identity in early higher education A review of research trends on learner identities,” presented at the 8th International Educational Research Congress, 2016, Çanakkale, Turkey, 2016, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: