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What kind of student am I?: Transition talk and investment in learning

Brooks, Kate; Kelly, Kieran


Kate Brooks

Kieran Kelly


The transition from ‘fresher’ to graduate has been widely conceptualised as a ‘learning journey’. This paper is an attempt to apply a broadly discursive approach to the study of the transition from school or college to the first year of university teaching.

The aims of the project were twofold: to generate a clearer perspective of the specific needs of first year students, identifying implications for induction, student support and teaching methods and to contribute to the growing number of studies theorising student learning. The paper is based on a small-scale ethnographic research project carried out at the University of the West of England between February and April, 2006.

The research process made use of use of focus groups, which are thought to be by far the most effective method for eliciting ‘ordinary conversation’, as opposed to the more official-seeming and less ‘rich’ questionnaire method. Our interview schedule included five broad areas of discussion (expectations, reflection, learning and teaching, assessments, well being).

Overall we found that students are in the main active rather than passive in their approach to university life and that it is often university structures and methods that prioritise the former rather than the latter approach amongst them. We conclude with some suggestions for further research.


Brooks, K., & Kelly, K. What kind of student am I?: Transition talk and investment in learning

Report Type Discussion Paper
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords transition, talk, students, interviews, student experience


journal article final.docx (52 Kb)

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