Thursday, 17 March 2016

Transition within university: Christie et al

This was a paper I read for a reading group at work. The title on transition interested me, and the authors suggest that it is a novel piece of research as it is a longitudinal study, following students through university, as they transition from year to year. Furthermore, its novelty lies in exploring transition between years once within university, rather than concentrating on transition into HE.

Christie, H., Tett, L., Cree, V., & McCune, V. (2106). 'It all just clicked': a longitudinal perspective on transitions within university. Studies in Higher Education, 41(3), 478-490.

The paper starts by setting the scene for the gap in the literature. I was taken by the sentence in the introduction "...students need to be better prepared for studying at the university level." (p. 478). The paper suggests that universities are interested in the topic of transition and retention of first years due to the financial and reputational issues.

Whilst the authors link their findings to Lave and Wenger's situated learning and legitimate peripheral participation, it is hard to see where the communities of practice, and the requirements for these to exist, actually come into the paper. What does scream out at me is the idea of organisational habitus and the students developing this as they progress through university, in relation to academic skills.

An interesting paper, and I'm sure that the original research perhaps made the link more clearly to communities of practice than is evident in this paper. I realise that with our subjective views of truth, we conceal as we reveal. Perhaps with my interest in researching Bourdieu, I look at everything with the expectation of seeing habitus and cultural capital. However, in this case, I can really see the link. I'm surprised the authors didn't.

A topic to explore further for my assignment - I was looking at this in relation to transition with vocational learners from FE to HE, but perhaps there is more of a gap in transition through the university. Lots to think about.

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