Student Reflections on Learning and Studying during the Transition to University: Implications for Tertiary Learning Advisors

Valerie A Sotardi, Myron D Friesen


Tertiary learning advisors (TLA) are key support staff for university students in Aotearoa New Zealand and serve a major role by promoting effective strategies for students’ studying and learning.  For TLAs to effectively assist students, particularly first-year university students, institutions must have a greater understanding of the academic transition experience as reported by students. The current study used a mixed-method approach to consider students’ reflections on their learning and study after their first semester of university. Results show that 2 out of 3 students reported feeling underprepared for their university courses, and most students reported attempts to modify their learning and study approaches in their adaptations to university. Further, students’ perceptions of the learning environment as clear and organised, interesting and personally relevant, and supportive of building a peer-based learning network were linked to positive changes in their learning and study practices. Such findings highlight the importance of the psychosocial climate on learning and learners during the student transition to university. While the majority of participants reported that their modified learning strategies were effective, a small minority felt incapable of overcoming this challenge.  The implications of these results are discussed about stress and coping theory. Recommendations for TLAs to support transitioning students are included.


Learning; Tertiary institutes; University

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