First year expectations and experiences: Student and teacher perspectives

Russell Brinkworth, Ben McCann, Carol Matthews, Karin Nordström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


Transitioning from high-school to university can be difficult, and many university teachers feel students are often ill-prepared for the change. To investigate this 233 Humanities and Science students at the University of Adelaide were surveyed 6 months into their first year regarding experiences of teaching and learning at university. 189 students were also surveyed 18 months after commencement, to gain retrospective views of their transition year, as were lecturers and tutors of both groups. Results were compared to similar Orientation Week questionnaires that focused on expectations. Questions included reasons for selecting degrees, quality of teacher feedback and perceived impact of outside commitments. Even though student expectations, student experience, and teacher views differed, remarkable similarities emerged across the two degree programs (Science and Humanities). Our findings thus highlight a call for non-specialised transition programs to meet the needs of first year students and facilitate the transition from secondary to tertiary education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-173
Number of pages17
JournalHigher Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncom- mercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


  • Feedback
  • Mismatch
  • Tertiary education
  • Transition


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