Supporting students in the transition to postgraduate taught study in STEM subjects

Bownes, J. et al. (2017) Supporting students in the transition to postgraduate taught study in STEM subjects. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, 5(2), pp. 3-11. (doi: 10.14297/jpaap.v5i2.280)

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While there has been a wide range of studies examining the transition of undergraduate and postgraduate research students, there are few which concentrate on the experiences of postgraduate taught (PGT) students. This is unfortunate, because PGT students have pressing needs for support: since taught masters courses last for usually one academic year, postgraduate students are asked to adapt and succeed at a far faster rate than undergraduates, who take four years in Scotland to complete an honours degree. PGT students are a minority group amongst the university population, with e.g. more than three times as many undergraduates enrolled at the University of Glasgow than postgraduates. Furthermore, international students represent a high proportion of PGT students. To better understand the needs of PGT students and therefore improve the quality of their education, we need to understand their experiences and challenges as they transition through their course. This paper presents a study focused on PGT students in STEM subjects at the University of Glasgow. Feedback from students in the College of Science and Engineering was gathered using a multi-methodological approach. Surveys, one-to-one interviews and a workshop were utilised to investigate students’ perceptions of support received from staff and services. This data was linked to student academic confidence, social confidence, and overall satisfaction with their experience at the university. Data were gathered at three points in the year to evaluate whether perceptions change as students progress through their course. This data from surveys and interviews was used to direct a workshop, which discussed potential solutions to issues raised. Better online resources were identified as key to feeling prepared before the commencement of a PGT course, and better communication with lecturers and peers was important to the success and satisfaction of students, particularly after beginning PGT study.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Pringle Barnes, Dr Gayle and Fischbacher-Smith, Professor Moira and Senn, Dr Hans and Bownes, Dr Jessica and Forrest, Dr David and Tasler, Dr Nathalie and McEwan, Dr Michael and Mactaggart, Dr David and Labrosse, Dr Nicolas and Jackson, Dr Maria
Authors: Bownes, J., Labrosse, N., Forrest, D., Mactaggart, D., Senn, H., Fischbacher-Smith, M., Jackson, M., McEwan, M., Pringle Barnes, G., Sheridan, N., and Biletskaya, T.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing
College of Science and Engineering > School of Chemistry
College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
College of Science and Engineering > School of Mathematics and Statistics > Mathematics
College of Science and Engineering > School of Physics and Astronomy
College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
University Services > Learning and Teaching Services Division
University Services > Student and Academic Services > Academic Services
Journal Name:Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice
Publisher:Edinburgh Napier University
ISSN (Online):2051-9788
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice 5(2): 3-11
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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