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

  • Lars Ulriksen
  • Lene Møller Madsen
  • Henriette Tolstrup Holmegaard
Chapter

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Social Integration Fellow Student Student Persistence Academic Integration Student Departure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Andrews, M., Squire, C., & Tamboukou, M. (2008). Doing narrative research. London: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Becher, T., & Trowler, P. R. (2001). Academic tribes and territories. Intellectual enquiry and the culture of disciplines. Maidenhead: The Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bøe, M. V., Henriksen, E. K., Lyons, T., & Schreiner, C. (2011). Participation in science and technology: Young people’s achievement‐related choices in late‐modern societies. Studies in Science Education, 47(1), 37–72. doi: 10.1080/03057267.2011.549621.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Braxton, J. M., Milem, J. F., & Sullivan, A. S. (2000). The influence of active learning on the college student departure process – toward a revision of Tinto’s theory. Journal of Higher Education, 71(5), 569–590. doi: 10.2307/2649260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bruner, J. (1990). Acts of meaning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bruner, J. (2004). Life as narrative. Social Research, 71(3), 691–710.Google Scholar
  7. Crosling, G., Thomas, L., & Heagney, M. (Eds.). (2008). Improving student retention in higher education. The role of teaching and learning. Milton Park: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Entwistle, N. (2009). Teaching for understanding at University. Deep approaches and distinctive ways of thinking. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  9. Harvey, L., Drew, S., & Smith, M. (2006). The first-year experience: A review of literature for the Higher Education Academy. York: The Higher Education Academy.Google Scholar
  10. Hollway, W., & Jefferson, T. (2000). Doing qualitative research differently: Free association, narrative and the interview method. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  11. Holmegaard, H. T., Madsen, L. M., & Ulriksen, L. (2014a). To choose or not to choose science: Constructions of desirable identities among young people considering a STEM higher education programme. International Journal of Science Education, 36(2), 186–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Holmegaard, H. T., Ulriksen, L. M., & Madsen, L. M. (2014b). The process of choosing what to study: A longitudinal study of upper secondary students’ identity work when choosing higher education. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 58(1), 21–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Holmegaard, H., Madsen, L., & Ulriksen, L. (2014c). A journey of negotiation and belonging: understanding students’ transitions to science and engineering in higher education. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 9(3), 755–786. doi:  10.1007/s11422-013-9542-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hurtado, S., & Carter, D. F. (1997). Effects of college transition and perceptions of the campus racial climate on Latino college students’ sense of belonging. Sociology of Education, 70(4), 324–345. doi: 10.2307/2673270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Illeris, K., Katznelson, N., Simonsen, B., & Ulriksen, L. (2002). Ungdom, identitet og uddannelse. Frederiksberg: Roskilde Universitetsforlag.Google Scholar
  16. Kvale, S. (1996). Interviews. An introduction to qualitative research interviewing. Thousand Oaks/London/New Delhi: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  17. OECD. (2008). Encouraging student interest in science and technology studies. Paris: OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).Google Scholar
  18. OECD. (2010). Education at a glance 2010. OECD indicators. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/45/39/45926093.pdf
  19. Polkinghorne, D. E. (1988). Narrative knowing and the human sciences. Albany: State University of New York.Google Scholar
  20. Schreiner, C., & Sjøberg, S. (2007). Science education and youth’s identity construction – Two incompatible projects? In D. Corrigan, J. Dillon, & R. Gunstone (Eds.), The re-emergence of values in science education (pp. 231–247). Rotterdam/Taipei: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  21. Seymour, E., & Hewitt, N. M. (1997). Talking about leaving. Why undergraduates leave the sciences. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  22. Tierney, W. G. (1999). Models of minority college-going and retention: Cultural integrity versus cultural suicide. Journal of Negro Education, 68(1), 80–91. doi: 10.2307/2668211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Tinto, V. (1975). Dropout from higher education – Theoretical synthesis of recent research. Review of Educational Research, 45(1), 89–125. doi: 10.3102/00346543045001089.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving college. Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition (2nd ed.). Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  25. Tinto, V. (2006–2007). Research and practice of student retention: What next? Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory and Practice, 8(1), 1–19. doi: 10.2190/4YNU-4TMB-22DJ-AN4W.
  26. Ulriksen, L. (2009). The implied student. Studies in Higher Education, 34(5), 517–532. doi: 10.1080/03075070802597135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ulriksen, L. (2013). Naturvidenskabelige studiekompetencer. Hvad er svært for nye universitetsstuderende? [Study competences in science. What is difficult for the students?]. Mona, 2013(2013-3), 44–63.Google Scholar
  28. Ulriksen, L., Madsen, L. M., & Holmegaard, H. T. (2010). What do we know about explanations for drop out/opt out among young people from STM higher education programmes? Studies in Science Education, 46(2), 209–244. doi: 10.1080/03057267.2010.504549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations