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Building bridges: Understanding student transition to university

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Ann Briggs, Professor Jill ClarkORCiD, Ian Hall



This paper explores challenges in ensuring effective student transition from school or college to university. It considers the significant social displacement involved in students’ creation of new learner identities. It examines the complex liaison needed for students to progress to appropriate degree courses, settle in to university life and succeed as higher education learners. Secondary data are drawn from analysis and synthesis of international literature on transition to higher education and the formation of learner identity, to identify key concepts. Primary data are taken from two studies of student transition in North-East England using student and staff surveys, student focus groups, staff interviews, and staff/student conferences which discussed selected project data sets. The analyses of secondary and primary data are used to model the process of transition and the formation of learner identity. The modelling process identifies organizational influences from school, college and university which contribute positively to learner growth. These are: personal contact, multiple opportunities, clarity of structure, apposite information, accessibility of people and curriculum, purposeful liaison, and the awareness of the individual within the process. Research into the process of student transition to university is mainly small-scale and the field is under-conceptualised. This paper synthesizes issues from a number of studies, including longitudinal and meta-studies where available, to identify key concepts and issues. These issues are then modelled in relation to current empirical data. Through this approach, the paper seeks to enhance organisational learning about student transition and provide conceptual thinking for the field.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Briggs ARJ, Clark J, Hall I

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Quality in Higher Education

Year: 2012

Volume: 18

Issue: 1

Pages: 3-21

Print publication date: 18/01/2012

Date deposited: 19/01/2012

ISSN (print): 1353-8322

ISSN (electronic): 1470-1081

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/13538322.2011.614468


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