The juxtaposition of STEPS to the undergraduate arena: The lived experience of transitioning into undergraduate study

Author: Trixie James

Central Queensland University

Edition: Volume 56, Number 2, July 2016

Summary: Australia wide, universities are offering tertiary education to the broader socio-economic cohort; however, alongside this educational reform, there is a concern that students who have been away from the formal education context for many years may not cope with the rigors of university. Consequently, prior to and conditional to admission to undergraduate studies, many universities have placed a greater emphasis on pre-skilling such students through pre-university programs known interchangeably as Enabling, Preparatory, Transition or Access programs. The research findings reported on in this article explore the lived experiences of eight first year undergraduate students, who upon the completion of an Enabling program, successfully articulated into and completed the first year of their university degree. Using a theoretical framework of social-efficacy (Bandura, 1997) and the application of existential phenomenology, commonalities in these experiences of the participants emerged. Four key themes were: (i) a sense of preparedness, (ii) fear of the unknown, (iii) university as an anchor, and (iv) a sense of certainty and rightness. In combination, the degree of self-efficacy demonstrated by each of the eight students can be said to have contributed to the successful completion of their first year of undergraduate studies.

Keywords: Enabling programs, adult education, transitioning; university, self-efficacy, regional campus

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This article is part of AJAL, Volume 56_2. The entire volume is available in .pdf for purchase here.OnTrack to university: understanding mechanisms of student retention in an Australian pre-university enabling program

Posted in Higher Education