A map, bicycle, and good weather : the transition to undergraduate study : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education in Adult Education at Massey University
This thesis set out to explore the experiences of a group of students in their first year of undergraduate study in a New Zealand university, in 2001. The students were full time, enrolled in two different degree programmes, and attended classes on two different sites. The study used qualitative, interpretive methodology to enable the students' voice to be heard clearly throughout. This is their story. The study also utilised a Transition Cycle Model to explore the ideas that arose from examining the data, and offers some suggestions to the university that might help it to improve the experience of its first year students in the future. The major conclusion of this study are: - The experience of the individual student needs to be considered and addressed - Enrolment and academic advice strategies are not adequate to meet the needs of the wide variety of students enrolling in undergraduate study - The first few weeks set the scene for the rest of the first year, and so every effort must be made to ensure those weeks are positive, and the students are well supported with the provision of an excellent initial teaching/learning experience - The interaction between students and all university staff sets the tone for the year - Assessment issues loom large for students. They need clear explanations and constructive and helpful feedback - Students who live outside the university seem to feel less of a 'connection' with the university than academics would like - A similar lack of connection is felt by students who need to have paid work to supplement their Student Loan/Allowance. Recommendations for change, and for further research, are made in the concluding chapter.