Science Students: Making the transition from high school to university

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Montgomery, Jeannie B.
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This qualitative study, grounded in phenomenology, investigated the experiences of first and second year university science students as they made the transition from high school to university, an area of research that has received less attention than earlier school transitions. The purpose of the study was to gain knowledge about aspects of their education both at high school and at university that might inform future practices related to school/university transitions. The primary source of data for the study was in-depth, semistructured interviews. Document analysis of curriculum guides for core science subjects and both high school and university course outlines provided supporting data. Thematic analysis of the interview transcripts, using a grounded theory approach, revealed that students were generally satisfied with their high school education in terms of curriculum covered. Analysis of the curriculum documents showed a significant correlation between the curriculum at high school and university and thus supported the students' observations about curriculum coherence between the two levels. Students' concerns related to their preparation for university focused on the following: studying, independent work habits, problem solving, and critical thinking. The students critiqued their university teachers in regard to their over-reliance on exams for assessment and evaluation, and the dominance of teacher-directed methodologies that limit classroom interaction. Insights from this study will help to inform my future teaching practices. More broadly, the results may guide changes at the high school and university levels that may contribute to a smoother transition from iv high school to university leading to better student performance, reduced drop out rates, and increased interest in science programs.
Entrance requirements , College , University , Scholastic success , Academic achievement , Nova Scotia , Education , Students , Science