An exploratory investigation into first year student transition to university

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 34: Higher Education on the Edge

July, 2011, 394 pages
Published by
K. Krause, M. Buckridge, C. Grimmer, & S. Purbrick-Illek
0 908557 85 X

Research into students’ first-year university experiences suggests that student perceptions during the transition period in the first semester at university may be critical in their decision to continue or discontinue tertiary studies. Understanding what enables successful transition informs and provides insights into student experiences, expectations and outcomes.

The research uses a pragmatic approach with mixed methods. Firstly, through qualitative research, students’ perceptions are obtained by in-depth interviews and focus groups that capture the first and second-order perspectives of existing students at the end of first-year studies. The second stage uses the themes emerging from interviews and focus groups to develop and inform an 80-item questionnaire. The instrument developed is used to collect data from students (n=771) in a large first-year core business course during the first few weeks of students’ university life. Key findings from the research are the identification of seven enabling factors that fall into two main groups, intrinsic or student-centred and extrinsic or university-led. Identifying enablers of transition as multi-dimensional provides universities with the opportunity to concentrate on extrinsic elements in order to assist successful transition to higher education.

Keywords: Transition, student-centred, university-led