This proposal will use a qualitative case study method (Creswell, 2013, Yin, 2009, Merriam, 1998) to explore internships and to guide the data collection, analysis and the reporting of the study. Components addressed in this section will be: (a) research design; (b) data collection and analysis; (c) ethical considerations to ensure validity and trustworthiness of the study.
Qualitative studies provide richness and holism to the analysis of the phenomenon under study (Miles
Research into Independent University Learning
Hazel Christie, Paul Barron and Norma D Annunzio-Green published an article ‘Direct entrants in transition: becoming independent learners’ in Studies in Higher Education, 2013. It examines students who have come from College having undertaken one or two years of equivalent education, then transitioned directly into a second or third year of a degree in University. Information was taken from direct entry students in their first year of study at University identifying what factors helped them succeed in studies. It identified that students who adjust quickly to new education environments understand what independent learning entails.
The challenge for direct entrant students is adjusting to the different learning environment at the university level, where students are required to function considerably more independently than they are used to at college. A critical factor of success is the ability to be flexible in adapting to new learning environments and adopting the attributes of an independent learner. Other characteristics of success are students’ concepts of assessment and time management. Not only understanding the contents and required format prove challenging for students, but also managing their time effectively to allow for sufficient preparation and timely submission of assessment items is vital for academic success.
This study was undertaken by Edinburgh Napier University located in Scotland over the 2006-2007 years. The study was made up of sixteen women and four men of which, six entered the second year and fourteen entered third-year studies. Eleven took business studies with the rest undertaking other related courses. Twelve were mature aged, working part time and or raising families. Eight students’ pathway went through school, college then to university. Interviews were taped and then transcribed at the end of the first year, discussing previous learning environments and their perceptions and preparedness for studies. Information collected was on initial expectations of the new learning environment at the university, the extent to which their expectations were met, and issues around teaching and learning.
The study found two key success factors in transitioning to university and becoming successful learners, coping and succeeding in module assessments, and good time management skills. Results identified three groups. Group one found transition reasonably smooth, the second found it hard to adjust, the third found it overwhelming and struggled to cope. The overall transition experience was challenging coming from structured and directed learning to independent learning. Group one were flexible and adapted quickly to the new learning style. They were confident and able to prioritise their time to separate study, work and family life. They believed this was imperative to their success. Students recognised the need to prepare for lectures and tutorials in advance, and the need for feedback on performance to critique themselves for self-improvement.
The second group had high expectations but found difficulties in making the transition. They struggled with independent research, the conventions of essay writing, referencing and putting the material together. Students struggled to achieve a balance between their studies and other commitments. By putting things off they engaged in crisis management or adopted a ‘do enough’ approach. Again, this group identified the need for independent learning and time management skills. They reflected on the need to improve on this if they wanted to be successful at university.
The final group was struggling to understand independent learning and found it difficult to take ownership of their learning. They experienced crises which made some consider leaving. None were nervous about starting university, more so they struggled to adjust to university study. They had limited understanding of what independent learning demanded and struggled with time management, interlinking work, social and academic time. Expectations were, they would study the same way as in college, relying on lecturers to guide them and advise on reading material needed. Likewise, lecturers were not aware that they had direct entry students who were unaware what university required.
Twenty students were interviewed about their experience of entering university directly from college into a second or third year of a university qualification. There was an assumption from the university that there would be a smooth transition, moving from one education framework to the next. Some students transitioned rapidly however others had difficulties with this transition. These students believed that support would continue, like what was provided at the college. Overall, students need to develop independent learning and time management skills to be successful in the transition to university. Universities need to identify and provide support to those students transitioning from college to university.
Prior to commencing this course, I felt I was ready to study. I knew I would have trouble with chemistry and biology, but I believed I was ready. After the first week, I soon learnt I was wrong. I then drew up a study timetable and highlighted in different colours each course with lectures, tutorials and study. I utilised the semester planner and diary plotting my course timetable and assessment dates. On Sundays, I now print out the weeks PowerPoint presentations and go through these with study materials to support my learning prior to attending classes.
With my prior work experience, I rapidly adapt to change. My family has started encroaching into my study schedule. I have since adjusted some of my study time to after the children are in bed. I have found some lectures hard to follow, I now watch the recordings from Sippy Downs. I attend the recently introduced weekly consultation support for chemistry and biology to aid my learning. From discussions with co-students, I now utilise YouTube videos to assist my chemistry and biology learning. I have a weakness in writing, so I am using an online grammar spell checker ‘Reverso’. With these strategies in place, I have been successful in keeping a study family life balance.
Preparedness for Classes
The following information has supported my preparedness for classes. On my study wall, I have a timetable outlining lectures and tutorials. A weekly planner has been created setting out each course, highlighted in a different colour showing the day and times scheduled for lectures, tutorials and study. My weekly planner has been amended due to the need of additional time required for the study. This will be monitored and adjusted as changes are needed. A semester planner detailing due dates for each assessment and how they are to be submitted is also on the wall. I update my diary each week with each weeks’ classes and any additional information as it comes to hand. I attended the two-day skills workshop the week prior to studying studies and I have enrolled in upcoming skills workshops that are available throughout the semester.
I have read the TPP101 Course Outline and I review it as we progress through the semester. I access Blackboard which has my e-lectures, quizzes, lecture recordings and PowerPoint presentations, assessment criteria and due dates. These materials are supporting my preparation for classes. The Task 2 Toolkit supports my preparation for not only each week leading up to the assessment submission date but also requirements for the upcoming assessment. The workbook is providing me with opportunities to practice and check on my understanding of key points. Going through these study materials has allowed me to prepare for the class as well as identify questions which can then be asked face to face at the lecture or tutorial.