Student perspectives of secondary to tertiary transitions : influences on the decision making process

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Authors
Sommerville, Sarah
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Degree
Master of Educational Leadership and Management
Grantor
Unitec Institute of Technology
Date
2019
Supervisors
Cardno, Carol
Howse, Jo
Type
Masters Dissertation
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Keyword
Auckland (N.Z.)
New Zealand
secondary students
college choice
decision making
institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs)
student recruitment
secondary to tertiary transition
perceptions
participation
tertiary students
education marketing
ITP sector
Citation
Sommerville, S. (2019). Student perspectives of secondary to tertiary transitions : influences on the decision making process. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Leadership and Management). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10652/4773
Abstract
RESEARCH QUESTIONS: 1. What are the beliefs and experiences of students who have recently transitioned from secondary to tertiary education in one New Zealand polytechnic? 2. What are the beliefs and experiences of students who are likely to transition from secondary to tertiary education to this polytechnic? 3. What strategies could be suggested to improve secondary to tertiary transitions? ABSTRACT: There has been a steady decline of students enrolling straight from secondary school into tertiary study in recent years. This decline has prompted emphasis to be placed on the transition process between secondary schools and tertiary institutes. However, there is never one simple explanation behind how they came to make their decisions. These decisions are complex and multifaceted, and without interventions can result in students not completing the transition process or successfully transitioning into tertiary study. The literature reveals a wide range of influences and barriers, but no clear understanding of the student’s perspective. This study set out to investigate the student perspectives of secondary to tertiary transitions; to examine influences on the decision making process; and to make recommendations for institutions and secondary schools to consider when engaging with students who are about to transition out of secondary school and into tertiary education. An interpretive approach was adopted for this study which used qualitative data about the experiences and perspectives of secondary school and tertiary students. To collect the data two focus groups were held, the first focus group had seven secondary school students from one West Auckland secondary school. The second focus group had seven first year tertiary students from my own institute. The study found similarities and differences between the responses of secondary school students and first year tertiary students concerning the transition from secondary school to tertiary education. Both groups placed an emphasis on parents and the highly influential role they play in the decision making process. While both groups spoke of pathways and the importance they played in the journey, the secondary school students spoke of open pathways and the tertiary students focused more on structured pathways and support. Both groups highlighted key barriers to transition, with focus placed on how to recognise and remove them. This study recommends that more importance be placed on the student voice and that there is a need for closer collaboration between secondary schools and tertiary institutions.
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