Much transition-to-university research to date emphasises how complex and challenging the transition experience can be for first year university students, despite the opportunities that their studies afford (e.g., Brown et al., 2015; Christie et al., 208; Moss et al., 2007; Stirling & Rosetto, 2015; Wozniak & McEldowney, 2015). This paper unpacks some of the complexities, challenges, and opportunities of transition in a way that breaks with, but also complements, more common approaches to investigating student transition in higher education and teacher education. In a sense, we apply a new lens to an old issue with a view to injecting the transition-to-university conversation with fresh insights and possibilities for transitions pedagogy and praxis. To do this we re-conceptualise transition as a practice, and, taking a practice theory approach, examine student transition in a particular Australian initial teacher education course in terms of practices and practice architectures that enabled and constrained what the participating students were saying (and thinking) and doing, and how they were relating to others and their new environment. In particular, we focus on student engagement and consider the conditions of possibility for student transition that existed or could exist in and around the course.
In the paper, we draw on analysis of 172 student surveys and 20 student interviews – as well as the ‘theory of practice architectures’ (Kemmis et al., 2014) and the notion of ‘praxis’ – to make a case for a praxis-oriented transitions pedagogy that takes account not only of differences between individual students and their circumstances, but also, importantly, of the practices and practice architectures that students and teacher educators co-produce. A praxis-oriented transitions pedagogy has implications for the capacity of educators and students to make a difference to students’ transition experiences. It also has, we shall argue, relevance beyond the Australian context, and in our discussion, we consider how our findings relate to issues and trends affecting transition into higher education and teacher education in Europe. Consistent with the objective Network 22 (Research in Higher Education), this paper presents empirical evidence gathered in one of a number of international countries (including Norway, Sweden, Finland, Colombia and Australia) collaborating in an international project researching practice in higher education. The aim of the international project is to develop a clearer picture of international trends, and policies, practices, and developments across these different countries to inform and develop praxis-oriented practices in higher education.
Brown, M., Hughes, H., Keppell, M., Hard, N., & Smith, L. (2015). Stories from students in their first semester of distance learning. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 16(4). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1647 Christie, H., Tett, L., Cree, V.E., & McCune, V. (2008). A real rollercoaster of confidence and emotion: Learning to be a university student. Studies in higher education, 33(5). doi.org/10.1080/03075070802373040 Kemmis, S., & Grootenboer, P. (2008). Situating praxis in practice: Practice architectures and the cultural, social and material conditions for practice. In S. Kemmis and T. Smith (Eds.), Enabling praxis: Challenges for education (pp. 37–62). Rotterdam: Sense. Kemmis, S., Wilkinson, J., Edwards-Groves, C., Hardy, I., Grootenboer, P., & Bristol, L. (2014). Changing practices, changing education. Singapore: Springer. Mahon, K., Francisco, S. & Kemmis, S. (Eds.), (2017). Exploring education and professional practice - Through the lens of practice architectures. Singapore: Springer. Moss, T., Pittaway, S. M., & McCarthy, R. (2007). The first year experience: Transition and integration into teacher education. Retrieved from http://eprints.utas.edu.au/4798/ Saldana, J. (2009). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. London, UK: Sage. Stirling, J., & Rossetto, C. (2015). "Are we there yet?": Making sense of transition in higher education. Student Success, 6(2), 9-20. Wozniak, H., & McEldowney, R. (2015). Layers of transition: The lived experiences of online distance learners. Research and development in higher education: Learning for life and work in a complex world, 38, 505-515. Yin, R. K. (2006). Case study methods. In J. L. Green, G. Camilli & P. B. Elmore (Eds.), Handbook of complementary methods in education research (pp. 111-122). Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association. Zepke, N. (2013). Student engagement: A complex business supporting the first year experience in tertiary education. The International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education. 4(2), 1-14.
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