Student Induction and Transition

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Reciprocal Journeys

Background and context

Many projects that have student transition to university as their focus seek to address the ‘problem’ of retention of students.  The outcomes of these projects tend to work closely with the ways in which universities can increase the attractiveness of their provision when students arrive, often problematizing the student experience as one of fear, isolation and discomfiting change.  (Thomas, 2013)

This project viewed student transition through a more positive lens, by creating a space for staff at university and students at college to better understand their experience of the learning and teaching that they encounter in their respective environments.  A film of this exchange has been created as a tool for staff development.  We hoped to address the concern that ‘Induction into HE’ can be so focused on the HE context, that it can largely ignore students’ prior experiences of learning.


To explore staff and student attitudes around the learning and teaching aspects of the transition process of students to higher education.  How does this transition supports the increasing diversity of prior educational experiences of entrants?

Key research questions

This is exploratory research project aimed to address the question:

  • What can staff learn from a situated study of the prior educational experience of students?

This film was the result of a visit of MMU staff to Xaverian 6th Form College in Manchester in April of 2015. We are currently using the film as a prompt to stimulate reflective thinking and dialogue around learning and teaching for students in transition.


Other outcomes of the project include

  • Further staff work towards accommodation of diverse learners and the desire for individual attention in a mass education system.
  • Developing ways of coping with the expectation of: an expert teacher, who tutors individually, and is a top subject expert.
  • A rich engagement with one college and a template for a learning and teaching engagement with other similar institutions.


Thomas, L. (2002). Student retention in higher education: the role of institutional habitus. Journal of Education Policy, 17(4), 423-442.

Thomas, L. (2013). What works? Facilitating an effective transition into higher education. Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 14(1), 4-24.