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Durham e-Theses
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From High School to Higher Education:
Processes, Changes, and Ways to Succeed

LO, MEI,HA,TRACY (2011) From High School to Higher Education:
Processes, Changes, and Ways to Succeed.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Transition from high school to higher education brings many changes to students in their academic and social life. Institutions are keen to provide support and services to help students make a smooth transition to college in the hope of helping them to be successful in their education career. This thesis aims to investigate what the first-year students in two associate degree (AD) programmes in a university in Hong Kong expected from college education, what sorts of changes and problems they had encountered in the first year of college and how they perceived academic success. Evidence came primarily from a questionnaire survey of three hundred students, and twenty-four face-to-face individual interviews. The findings of the study reveal that many first-year students in the two AD programmes were not sufficiently prepared for college study. Some failed to integrate into the wider context of a new environment to reap the full benefits of tertiary education, while some failed to make sufficient changes in their learning approach to suit the new academic demands. College to them seemed to be an extension of secondary education preparing them for a full degree programme. On a positive note, the sample in this study agreed that they received more exposure to active learning, such as participating in project work and working in groups. They also began to note the importance of developing themselves in a more holistic manner and the need for developing transferable skills. Raising students’ awareness of the differences between school and college prior to their arrival at college is considered to be an important endeavor to facilitate a smooth transition. Institutions’ support for student adaptation should include not only early orientation programmes but also ongoing activities. A key to successful transition is to promote students’ academic and social integration through policies such as outcome-based curriculums, learning communities and compulsory residence. Students should also be encouraged to undertake regular self-reflection on their learning so as to remain aware of where they are and what to do next.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Education
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2011
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:20 Feb 2012 09:46

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