Bridgingthegap

Bridging the Gap: Transitions Research

Background

In 2008, team members Ann Briggs, Jill Clark and Ian Hall were commissioned to conduct a piece of cross-faculty research into the area of transition, through the auspices of University Strategic Funds.

The project addressed the following criteria:
• Increased knowledge of the secondary and higher education environment and better knowledge of what student expectations are (e.g. study into pre-entry expectations; opportunities for Newcastle lecturers to meet secondary school teachers and share knowledge)
• Increased knowledge of both how school students learn and what they learn (curriculum).

Transition issues, with the resultant satisfaction and retention of students, are a current focus across the University; this project is designed to promote wider understanding of these issues and to enable strategies to address them. It enables synthesis and dissemination of what is already known, and identification of areas of current and potential future good practice.

Activities, methodology and research tools used

Phase 1
Knowledge Synthesis 1
Aims
To synthesise the knowledge already held about students in transition, and the impact of programmes to support them.
Methods
University-wide survey and a synthesis workshop
Tools used
Download the survey template
Results
Download the survey database of results
Outputs

A synthesis workshop was held at the University. Admission tutors and staff with liaison responsibilities for admission and induction attended, together with a partner from Northumberland Local Authority. The workshop disseminated the knowledge gained from the database, together with the work of PARTNERS.

Findings

Delegates then addressed the key questions and discussion points

   
Phase 2
Data Collection 1
Aims
To explore the views and experiences of pre-entry students of University: What engages/excites them about university entry?; current preferred modes of learning and teaching; experience of support for assessment processes; expectations of learning and teaching at University and expectations of the University experience.
Methods
Fieldwork visits to 4 Northumberland schools and 4 North East Further Education (FE) colleges. We conducted interviews with groups of school/college students and relevant staff members. Download details of our sample.
Tools used

Download the protocol document

Download the college/school student interview schedule

Download the college/school staff interview schedule

Findings
Download the Key Issues document
   
Phase 3
Data Collection 2
Aims
To expand on our synthesis phase and focus in on particular aspects of programmes and activities happening in the University and highlight what works well and areas of good practice.
Methods

From the initial survey of transition/induction experiences within Newcastle University, four Case Studies were chosen:
Newcastle University PARTNERS programme
VETNET LLN North East
RSC Teacher Fellowship in Chemistry
Speech and Language Sciences.

For the case studies, students were surveyed by questionnaire, and a small number were interviewed. Key members of staff were interviewed, and contributed to the final case study report. In the case of Speech and Language Sciences, a more detailed survey was carried out, at the request of SLS.

Tools used

Download the student survey template

Download the case study leader interview schedule

Download the University student interview schedule

Findings

Download the Key Issues document

Download the PARTNERS Case Study report

Download the VETNET LLN North East Case Study report

Download the RSC Teacher Fellowship Case Study report

Download the Speech & Language Sciences Case Study report

   
Phase 4
Knowledge Synthesis 2
Aims
To disseminate research findings, share good practice and formulate recommendations.
Methods
The 'Paving the Way’ conference was used for dissemination and the presentation for the conference was based upon the project report. It posed critical questions about transition to student applicants and to school / college / university staff.
Tools used

Download the slides for 'What's the Journey?' presentation

Download the 'Reflecting on the Journey' worksheet

Outputs

The day offered a framework for discussion and for the creation of artwork.

Findings

Download the 'What makes a difference?' report

Download the Recommendations

Download the complete final report