Musings on transition from my place on the fence…

One whole semester as a university lecturer survived…. Combined with one whole term of school teaching… It has been tough, 2 part time jobs certainly add up to more than one full time one at times and there’s a great deal of plate spinning going on to keep up with commitments in both places. But now I am fully immersed back in the HE world here are my thoughts on successful and less successful students.

I am currently teaching chemistry to school years 7,8,12 and 13 and university years foundation and year 1 (year 2 begins for me in 2nd semester). So I sit exactly at the point of transition between A-levels and HE. Having had a full year out as a school teacher fellow, teaching again in the university, I thought I knew everything but I have been surprised by what I have observed in these few short months.

My main observations have been the differences between students on the Foundation course (mainly those UK students who missed their offer and wanted the same institution so accepted an extra year, the international students tend to be quite different) and those in 1st year. Some of my observations have come from time spent with students in 1st year who have found the transition very difficult.

Less successful students…

  • Turn up to tutorials clutching a takeaway coffee
  • Use their mobile phone during tutorials
  • Are very fixed in who they sit with during tutorials
  • Have attendance figures which drop when a tutorial is rearranged to 9am
  • Struggle to deal with changes to routine like room/building changes or changes to the length of sessions
  • Are rarely silent for long, don’t seem to appreciate the value of silence
  • Don’t bring their tutorial sheets, lecture notes, calculator
  • Are always asking when the answers will be put on Blackboard
  • Find it hard to create a study space at home/in halls
  • Don’t open their textbooks or explore the additional eLearning resources

In in reality this probably summarises to what we could all have predicted…

  • lack focus
  • fixed mindset
  • lack perseverance
  • poor organisation
  • focused on assessment outcome rather than understanding

Now I need to think of ways to challenge these kinds of problems in 6th formers, before they embark on HE (or miss their offers…)

Growth mindset?



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