2012 Transitions into postgraduate study

Anna Heussi

Much previous research into the area of student transitions has mainly focussed on the transition from high school to university (Palmer, O’Kane, & Owens, 2009). However it may be that the difficulties experienced by those transitioning into postgraduate study are much greater as new difficulties come into play. For example, for those who have not been to university before, or those who also have a full-time job. The current research wanted to explore student perceptions about the transition into postgraduate study. In particular, perceptions with regards to difficulties encountered and suggestions for improvements to aid this transition.

 After attaining questionnaire data surrounding student experience, it became apparent that student transition experience was a key area that required attention, especially with regards to: receiving support, commitments outside of university, and knowing what they needed to do in order to succeed on the course. In order to explore these key areas of concern two focus groups session were conducted with students from some of the courses that completed the initial survey. Focus groups were conducted at the university and lasted approximately 40 minutes. Within these focus groups the discussion was prompted into the key areas of concern identified in the survey.

Participants were collected via opportunistic sampling in lectures. The first focus group contained 4, more mature, participants and the second contained 5 younger participants. Each focus group was recorded and then transcribed. Analysis will consist of firstly, identifying key themes in the discussions. Secondly key areas of concern will be highlighted to focus on things that aren’t quite working in the university. Lastly things that work well and improvements suggested by students will be highlighted. Hopefully the findings will have important implications for improving future student experience in experiencing the transition into postgraduate study.

Link:  Presentation and blog

B2 – (EX42 and EX36) 11.50