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Karousou, Regina
Languages: English
Types: Unknown
The thesis explores the potentially problematic nature of transitions and the implications for the way students engage with (and disengage from) the process of learning. Although studies in the field of student experience, learning approaches and transitions have examined the relation between learning and contextual factors, there has not been an in-depth examination of the ways students cope with the changes at personal and academic level they are confronted with at university. This study draws initially upon the theories of Lave & Wenger to develop a theoretical model for conceptualising students' experiences of learning at university. The study is therefore able to provide additional insights into the way individual identity; institutional communities and the interaction between the personal and the social elements can play a role in students' experiences of their transitions to and in university. This is developed with a very specific focus on transitions from first to second year study at university. In order to explore the nature and range of transitions that students experience, the methodological design of the study is based upon a qualitative methodology including classroom observations, semi-structured interviews of nine undergraduate students along with non-participant observation of two modules within one pre-1992 HE institution. The data are analysed to explore the research participants' perceptions, meanings and practices as these are negotiated and enacted in the various communities before and after their transition to and within university. The research findings suggest that the process of transitions involves a rich interplay between roles, relationships and participation. As students strive to develop higher order skills and become part of their communities, they seem to be confronted with changes in perceptions, positions and attitudes. These changes can be seen as deriving from the interactions between students and their institutional and wider communities. In essence, therefore, the thesis offers a model for understanding students' transitions to and within university. This model suggests that underpinning students' experiences at university are a range of transitions within various communities that influence the way identities, knowledge, and practices are constructed.
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