An evaluation of an introductory module to support students with the transition to Irish higher education

Langan, Eoin (2018) An evaluation of an introductory module to support students with the transition to Irish higher education.


The transition from post primary to Higher Education in Ireland can be the most challenging undertaken by students on their educational journey. Wintre and Yaffe (2000, p. 10) point out that “as students transition from the support frameworks of schools, they commonly find it difficult to manage the level of autonomy and flexibility which comes as part of the higher education environment”. This transition is complex and multidimensional. This research study examines how one element of the support system that Higher Education Institutions can provide i.e. a dedicated module that introduces students to the academic and broader skills required for success in their new academic journey and beyond.
Taking a mixed methods approach within the philosophical framework of pragmatism, the research gathers perspectives from both students who have undertaken the module in the Business Schools of three Irish Higher Education Institutions and academic staff who were either drivers of the adoption and/or involved with teaching the module. In addition, the research examines students’ perceptions of ‘mindset’, as outlined by psychologist Professor Carol Dweck (2008).
The main findings of the research project conclude that concerns with the adequacy of the Leaving Certificate programme plus the implementation of Government Policy were the main drivers for the adoption of a dedicated module to support transition. Also, it was discovered that student’s views of the module are positive, with 70% rating their overall experience of the module as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’. It is of note that students do not fully appreciate the benefits of the module until later in their studies. Confidence gained from undertaking presentations and the value of group/team work were perceived as the best aspects of the module. A more specific and targeted integration with other modules across the curricula is seen as the main area for enhancement. Student views of self-theories were positive, with 83% having either ‘a strong growth’ or ‘growth mindset’.

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