The First-Year Experience: Students’ Encounter with Science and Engineering Programmes

  • Lars Ulriksen
  • Lene Møller Madsen
  • Henriette Tolstrup Holmegaard


To increase the number of graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), it is not sufficient to attract more students to the programmes. It is equally important to ensure that the students complete their studies. This chapter presents a qualitative analysis of the experiences of 20 students who entered a science or engineering programme at a Danish university. In this longitudinal study, narrative interviews were carried out with the students during their first year. The chapter explores how the students were striving to bridge the gap between what they had expected the programme to be like, and what they experienced when entering. Drawing on Tinto’s model of student departure, the academic and social integration is discussed. The analysis suggests that the curriculum of the STEM programmes makes it difficult for students to become academically integrated. This is primarily because of the sequencing (when do students meet which content?), the pace, and the teaching and learning activities.


Social Integration Fellow Student Student Persistence Academic Integration Student Departure 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lars Ulriksen
    • 1
  • Lene Møller Madsen
    • 1
  • Henriette Tolstrup Holmegaard
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Science EducationUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen CDenmark

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