Stuck narratives and the student experience, the inaugural SERT project

Seeking to “lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers”

James Baldwin

The “stuck narratives” project from April 2018-April 2019 investigated questions about Ryerson University students’ sense of belonging in a university institution and the ways in which dominant narratives about the post-secondary experience impact students’ actual lived experiences within it. SERT used arts-based methods of inquiry, including collage, drawing, writing, photography, and digital storytelling, both as tools to elicit responses from participants and as ways to share the results of our work.

Participant Collages

Over the course of our focus groups, we engaged a total of seventeen participants in collage-making as a form of eliciting narratives about their student experience, representing in turn the following questions: A) What did you envision coming into post-secondary education? B) What is your actual lived experience as a Ryerson student? Through the making of these collages and the ensuing reflective conversations, we hoped to elicit responses and stories from students about their expectations and experiences in university and whether there were interesting relationships to be noticed.



Stuck Narratives and the Student Experience at Ryerson University, the inaugural SERT project 2018-2019 received ethics approval from Ryerson University’s Research Ethics Board in June 2018 (REB 2018-260).