The experience of transition and adjustment for mature-age, undergraduate students in their first year of university
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOnly available to University of Melbourne staff and students, login required
© 2015 Dr. Lesleigh Merryn Dawborn-Gundlach
The increasingly diverse enrolment of first year undergraduate students at tertiary institutions in Australia, and overseas, raises issues about the transition of different groups of students and the support and services required to make a positive adjustment to university. Using a pragmatic approach, this study examined the experiences of transition of mature-age students to university and has added to understandings of the transition experiences of mature-age students in their first undergraduate university courses. The study adopted a sequential mixed methods approach using qualitative and quantitative research methods. The study addressed four research questions: 1. How well do mature-age, undergraduate students adjust to university? 2. What are the experiences of mature-age, undergraduate students in relation to their academic, social and personal adjustment to university? 3. What are the personal and demographic factors which affect mature-age student adjustment to university? 4. What strategies or services support mature-age, undergraduate students through tertiary transition? The findings suggest that the mature-age students in the current study adjusted well, overall, to university; however, they had lower levels of adjustment in the domains of Social and Personal Adjustment than in the domain of Academic Adjustment. Thematic analyses of the qualitative data provide a comprehensive understanding of students’ adjustment experiences; the factors affecting their adjustment, and the strategies and support required for enhancing university adjustment. Difficulties for students in their academic and social adjustment included concerns about their academic skill levels, assessment and group-work, interactions with other students and loneliness and social dislocation. Family and financial obligations, the ability to maintain an appropriate life/university balance, age and identity as a student, were issues that affected students’ personal adjustment. The implication of this study for tertiary institutions is the need to understand the student demographic and provide appropriate programs and support services to ensure the needs of all first year students, including mature-age students are met.
Keywordstransition; adjustment; mature-age students; transition experiences of mature-age students
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