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Fears of failure and transition into higher education

Ratajczak, Michael (2014) Fears of failure and transition into higher education. University of Lancaster. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Transition into Higher Education (HE) can involve significant changes to an individual’s social role and environment, posing challenges to new students. Fears of academic and social failure are well established in secondary schools and thus can transfer to HE. Despite this, there is little qualitative research investigating how students are affected by and deal with the two fears during the transition into and throughout HE. The current research studied the transition experiences of 12 first and third year undergraduates. Opportunity-snowball sampling was used to recruit six male and six female students. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect qualitative data, which were analysed using thematic analysis. Main themes and sub-themes were identified, leading to constructions of thematic maps. Students were negatively and positively affected by the fears of academic and social failure during transition into university. However, over time the majority learned to balance the two fears. Some possible gender differences were found, limitations and suggestions for future research were discussed.

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