High school to university transition: How students perceive, describe, and respond to the academic expectations that they encounter

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ed.D.
Date created
Since Dr. George Stern first coined the phrase The Freshman Myth in 1966, there have been numerous studies regarding university transition. The focuses of these studies have ranged from students' academic expectations, impact of instructors and implementation of orientation and retention programs. Further, widening university access has resulted in a much more diverse student population. A more diverse student population, coupled with a global economy in need of a well-educated workforce highlighted the importance of universities responding to the successful transition and retention of first-year students. Students' academic expectations and experiences factor largely in students' transition experience. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore how the research participants initially formed their academic expectations and how, due to both positive and negative academic experiences, they re-evaluated and adjusted these academic expectations. This cyclical process, based on one's academic experiences, of forming and re-forming academic expectations was not addressed in the literature. Since there were few studies regarding the complex factors influencing transition to university from the students' perspective, this study utilized a qualitative case study approach. Over the course of their first two years of study, seven participants were interviewed on three different occasions. Based on the findings, students continue to have significant misconceptions regarding university-level academic expectations, required study skills, and the impact of their instructors. It is posited that if accurate information and positive experiences do not clarify these misconceptions, students may disengage and withdraw from university. This study makes a number of recommendations for potential university students, high schools, and instructors and universities to support and facilitate a more successful transition experience.
258 pages.
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Thesis advisor: Laitsch, Daniel
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