Improvement in the transition of a student from secondary or further education into science higher education : Is there a mismatch between staff and students' expectations as to what is required to study science?
The aim this project is to consider if we can improve the transition of a student from secondary or further education into science higher education by analysing whether there is a mismatch between staff and students’ expectations as to what is required to study science. In the School of Life Sciences at the University of Hertfordshire the vast majority of our students successfully cope with their first year at University and go on to achieve good degrees but a number of students do struggle with the change in the way they are expected to learn and with the rigour of scientific analysis. We asked the questions ‘What are the key attributes of a science student’; and ‘What do students expect to encounter when they study science in our School’? In this poster we will present the results of our investigations with staff and students on Bioscience; Geography and Environmental Science; Sports and Exercise Science; Sports Therapy and Sports Studies programmes. A questionnaire was developed and delivered to students in the first and second years of their programmes in which they were asked to reflect on their experience before and during their first year and to provide suggestions as to how that experience could be improved. Focus groups with academic staff were used to discuss and identify the common skills needed for science learning and research. We also canvassed opinions from people with experience of secondary level science education. This information will be used to give our students a clear and consistent message about our expectations from the day they accept a place on one of our courses. To this end we are currently developing electronic material (including video and animations) to help students prepare for science at University before they start and during their induction week. This material will be also used throughout the first year to continue the support of the student in developing their scientific skills.