Managing Transition

  • Ben McCann
  • Sharron KingEmail author
  • Ann Luzeckyj
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Education book series (BRIEFSEDUCAT)


Transition can be defined as the process or a period of transformation from one state or condition to another. Often, in the case of arrival at university, the transformation may be unfamiliar, different or new. Students undergo feelings similar to those in other ‘life events’ such as starting a new job, moving from one country to another or losing a family member (Schaetti in Int J Qual Stud Educ 27(2):1–24, 1996). Although students experience the transition into higher education in different ways, the change from a familiar environment into an unfamiliar one represents a period of disequilibrium (Jackson in Oxford Rev Educ 29(3):331–346, 2010). As Kift (HERDSA Rev Higher Educ 2:51–86, 2015) notes, ‘making a successful transition to university is never a given. While many students adjust relatively easily, thrive and survive—many do not and consider leaving’ (p. 52).


  1. Askham, P. (2008). Context and identity: Exploring adult learners’ experiences of higher education. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 32(1), 85–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ballantyne, J., Madden, T., & Todd, N. (2009). Gauging the attitudes of non-traditional students at a new campus: An Australian case study. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 31(4), 301–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Benson, R., Heagney, M., Hewitt, L., Crosling, G., & Devos, A. (2012). Social inclusion and the student experience: What are the implications for academic support? Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 14(2), 11–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bridges, D. (2000). Back to the future: The higher education curriculum in the 21st century. Cambridge journal of education, 30(1), 37–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brinkworth, R., McCann, B., Burke da Silva, K., King, S., Luzeckyj, A., McCann, J., et al. (2013). Student and staff expectations and experiences, Final Report. Canberra: Office for Learning and Teaching Final Report. Accessed February 7, 2019.
  6. Brook, H., & Michell, D. (2014). Knowing Students. In H. Brook, D. Fergie, M. Maeorg, & D. Michell (Eds.), Universities in transition: Foregrounding social contexts of knowledge in the first year experience (pp. 229–244). Adelaide: University of Adelaide Press.Google Scholar
  7. Cook, A., & Leckey, J. (1999). Do expectations meet reality? A survey of changes in first year student opinion. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 23(2), 157–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Compas, B. E., Wagner, B. M., Slavin, L. A., & Vannatta, K. (1986). A prospective study of life events, social support, and psychological symptomatology during the transition from high school to college. American Journal of Community Psychology, 14(3), 241–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Devlin, M., & O’Shea, H. (2011). Directions for Australian higher education institutional policy and practice in supporting students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 33(5), 529–535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Devlin, M., Kift, S., Nelson, K., Smith, L., & McKay, J. (2012). Effective teaching and support of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds: resources for Australian higher education. Office for Learning and Teaching Project. Available at Accessed 18 October 2019.
  11. Hagan, D., & Macdonald, I. (2000). A collaborative project to improve teaching and learning in first year programming. Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, 9, 65–76.Google Scholar
  12. Henderson, R., Noble, K., & George-Walker, D. (2009). Transitioning into university: ‘Interrupted’ first year students problem-solving their way into study. Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development, 6(1), 51–65.Google Scholar
  13. Jackson, C. (2010). Transitions into higher education: Gendered implications for academic self-concept. Oxford Review of Education, 29(3), 331–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. James, R., Krause, K.-L., & Jennings, C. (2010). The first year experience in Australian universities. Canberra, Australia: DEEWR.Google Scholar
  15. Johnston, H., Collett, D., & Kooyman, B. (2013). Enabling parents, partners and friends to collaborate in student transition and success. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 7(2), 50–61.Google Scholar
  16. Kift, S. (2015). A decade of transition pedagogy: A quantum leap in conceptualising the first year experience. HERDSA Review of Higher Education, 2, 51–86.Google Scholar
  17. Kift, S., & Nelson, K. (2005). Beyond curriculum reform: Embedding the transition experience. In A. Brew & C. Asmar (Eds.), Research and development in higher education: Higher education in a changing world (Vol. 28, pp. 225–235). Retrieved from Accessed February 7, 2019.
  18. Kift, S., Nelson, K. J., & Clarke, J. A. (2010). Transition pedagogy: A third generation approach to FYE: A case study of policy and practice for the higher education sector. The International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education, 1(1), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Larmar, S., & Ingamells, A. (2010). Enhancing the first-year university experience: Linking university orientation and engagement strategies to student connectivity and capability. Research in Comparative and International Education, 5(2), 210–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Leese, M. (2010). Bridging the gap: Supporting student transitions into higher education. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 34(2), 239–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Longwell-Grice, R., & Longwell-Grice, H. (2008). Testing Tinto: How do retention theories work for first-generation, working-class students? Journal of College Student Retention, 9(4), 407–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lowe, H., & Cook, A. (2003). Mind the gap: Are students prepared for higher education? Journal of Further and Higher Education, 27(1), 53–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Luzeckyj, A., King, S., Scutter, S., & Brinkworth, R. (2011). The significance of being first: A consideration of cultural capital in relation to “first in family” student’s choices of university and program. A Practice Report. International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education, 2(2), 91–96.Google Scholar
  24. Macdonald, I. (2000). What do we mean by transition, and what is the problem? Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, 9, 7–20.Google Scholar
  25. McCarthy, M., & Kuh, G. D. (2006). Are students ready for college? What student engagement data say. Phi Delta Kappan, 87, 664–669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McInnis, C., James, R., & Hartley, R. (2000). Trends in the first year experience in Australian universities. Centre for the Study of Higher Education: University of Melbourne.Google Scholar
  27. McInnis, C. (2002). Signs of disengagement: Responding to the changing work patterns of full-time undergraduates in Australian universities: Higher Education in the 21st Century. London: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  28. Mcleod, J. (2011). Student voice and the politics of listening in higher education. Critical Studies in Education, 52(2), 179–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Menzies, V. J., & Nelson, K. J. (2012). Enhancing student success and retention: An institution-wide strategy for peer programs. Paper presented at the 15th International First Year in Higher Education Conference, Brisbane, Queensland, 26–29 June 2012. Retrieved from
  30. Meuleman, A.-M., Garrett, R., Wrench, A., & King, S. (2014). ‘Some people might say I’m thriving but … ’: Non-traditional students’ experiences of university. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 19(5), 503–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Morrison, G., & Brown, M. (2006). Persistence to graduation among at-risk criminal justice and criminology students: Experiences in intervening with a sophomore cohort. Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 17(2), 358–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nelson, K. J., Kift, S. M., Humphreys, J. & Harper, W. (2006). A blueprint for enhanced transition: Taking an holistic approach to managing student transition into a large university. Paper presented at the 9th Pacific Rim First Year in Higher Education Conference, Gold Coast, Queensland, 12–14 July 2012. Retrieved from
  33. Nelson, K. J., Clarke, J. A., Kift, S. M., & Creagh, T. A. (2011). Trends in policies, programs and practices in the Australasian First Year Experience literature 2000–2010. Accessed February 7, 2019.
  34. O’Brien, M., Llamas, M., & Stevens, E. (2012). Lessons learned from four years of peer mentoring in a tiered group program within education. Journal of the Australia and New Zealand Student Services Association, 40, 7–15.Google Scholar
  35. O’Shea, S. (2013). Transitions and turning points: Exploring how first-in-family female students story their transition to university and student identity formation. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 27(2), 1–24.Google Scholar
  36. O’Shea, S. (2015, March 20). Why first-in-family uni students should receive more support. The Conversation. Retrieved from Accessed February 7, 2019.
  37. Padgett, R. D., Keup, J. R., & Pascarella, E. T. (2013). The impact of first-year seminars on college students’ life-long learning orientations. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 50(2), 133–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pancer, S., Hunsberger, B., Pratt, M., & Alisat, S. (2000). Cognitive complexity of expectations and adjustment to university in the first year. Journal of Adolescent Research, 15(1), 38–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Scanlon, L., Rowling, L., & Weber, Z. (2007). You don’t have like an identity. You are just lost in a crowd: Forming a student identity in the first-year transition to university. Journal of Youth Studies, 10(2), 223–241.Google Scholar
  40. Schaetti, B. F. (1996). Transition programming in international schools: An emergent mandate. Inter-Ed, 24(78).Google Scholar
  41. Simmons, O. S. (2013). Lost in transition: The implications of social capital for higher education access. Notre Dame Law Review, 87(4), 205–252.Google Scholar
  42. Smith, L. (2011). Experiential ‘hot’ knowledge and its influence on low-SES students’ capacities to aspire to higher education. Critical Studies in Education, 52(2), 165–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Tinto, V. (1994). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition. Chicago: Chicago University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Tinto, V. (1998). Colleges as communities: Taking research on student persistence seriously. The Review of Higher Education, 21(2), 167–177.Google Scholar
  45. Van der Meer, J., Jansen, E., & Torenbeek, M. (2010). It’s almost a mindset that teachers need to change: First-year students’ need to be inducted into time management. Studies in Higher Education, 35(7), 777–791.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Flinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

Personalised recommendations