Paper 10: Student transitions: diversity and uniformity of experience
Peter Sercombe, Newcastle University
This paper arises from out interest in university students’ views of ways in which and the extent to which they undergo ‘transition’, while becoming familiarised with a new social environment. The paper underlines students’ reports of the various ways in which they engage with culture, language and educational context, at a UK university. A variety of instruments was used to interrogate students’ construction of their transition (including psychometric surveys, observation, diaries and semi-structured interviews) to explore interrelationships between a number of processes inherent in their transition. These processes included grade point average, psychological wellbeing, and perceived satisfaction with life in a new environment. Our sample of international students, from a diverse set of national backgrounds, were studying in the same department at the same institution. The students arrived with the same overall TOEFL or IELTS level overall on entry and had the same general levels of prior academic achievement (at least an upper second class degree from an internationally-recognised institution of higher education). All the students were undertaking either Applied Linguistics or Cross-cultural Communication studies for their degrees and were studying within a generally similar programme structure in terms of amount of contact with tutors, levels of administrative support and assessment standards applied to their academic work. Despite this uniformity the students experienced transition in distinct and nuanced ways demonstrating the complexity of the interrelationships of social, cultural and educational factors.