‘Academic culture shock’ experienced by students entering third-level education

‘Academic culture shock’ experienced by students entering third-level educationMary Immaculate

Special one-day conference at MIC set to examine key issues for students transitioning through education system

This month over 50,000 students have taken the significant step in the transition from second-level to third-level education, with a similar number progressing from primary to post-primary education.  The Policy Research Institute for Social and Education Matters (PRISEM) at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick is set to hold a special one-day conference called Transitions in Education on Friday, 23rd of September examining issues experienced by students including social anxiety and ‘academic culture shock’.

Location – T117 in the Tara Building.

Speaking in advance of the conference Dr Brendan O’Keeffe, the Institute co-director and MIC lecturer, said “The transition from school to college brings tremendous opportunities, but can also bring considerable challenges to young people and their families.  Maximising the opportunities and redressing the challenges are important in enabling students to realise their potential – academically and socially.”


The conference will bring together a range of voices, including students, parents, teachers, academics, civil society, counsellors, youth leaders, professional bodies, public servants and those involved in public policy formulation.  Dr O’Keeffe went on to say “ By bringing this diversity of experience together in a single conference, Mary Immaculate College is hoping to highlight what is working well in terms of supporting young people to make a successful transition from one tier of education to another. It is also envisaged that the conference will identify policies, practices and approaches that need to be improved, changed tweaked and / or enhanced, so as to create a truly supportive environment for students.”


The keynote address will be delivered by Professor Liz Thomas, Edge Hill University, Lancashire. Prof. Thomasaddress entitled ‘Third level transitions: Addressing academic and social challenges through the curriculum using a global lens’ will examine, among other issues, a perceived ‘academic culture shock’ experienced by some students. Drawing on concepts of inclusive learning from the UK and transition pedagogy from Australia, Professor Thomas will consider the role of curriculum design, learning and teaching approaches and assessment to facilitate an effective transition from school into third-level education.


Dr Geraldine Brosnan, Director of Student Life and Senior Lecturer at MIC and Dr Anne O’Keeffe, Senior Lecturer at MIC will examine the transition from second-level and further education to higher education based on research evidence from the Irish perspective.  Dr Geraldine Brosnan reported that the research found that “many studies internationally on transitions to higher education have highlighted a range of factors including: academic and time management demands; student engagement and challenges of social integration”. She continues, “our study, led by Prof. Eleanor Denny, TCD, focused on over 1,500 students across TCD, MIC, UL and LIT and showed that Irish students share the concerns of their counterparts in other countries but we also found that they were particularly challenged by the need to be able to manage your own time in college and to meet deadlines for assignments”. Dr Anne O’Keeffe added that, “the types of assignments that are set in higher education are very different and require different conventions, such as the referencing of citations and this can also be a struggle”. She continues, “the ways in which we use continuous assessment and group assignment tasks also featured strongly as a transitionary challenge. The study also revealed that adult learners who had completed institutional access courses or who had completed QQI (FETAC) found the transition less challenging”.


A series of workshops will also be held on the day that will examine the current policy framework and environment, challenges faced by current third-level students and the perspectives and roles of parents and the school community. The workshop recommendations will be put to a panel of experts which will include Brian Mooney, Irish Times Columnist and Managing Editor of Education Matters; Gerard O’Hara, Director of the National Parents Council;  Eddie McGrath, Vice President, Institute of Guidance Councillors and Catherine Shanahan, Director of Drumcondra Education Centre Association of Teachers’/Education Centres in Ireland.


Other speakers will include Rob O’Donnell, Honorary President of the Irish Second-level Students’ Union and Mary Doyle, Deputy Secretary General of the Department of Education and Skills.


The aim of the Policy Research Institute for Social and Education Matters [PRISEM] is the advancement of research about current educational and social policy, the fostering of knowledge and best-practice, the promotion of social inclusion and the delivery of excellence in education.


For conference programme and registration details please see here … 

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2016-09-26T13:04:58+00:00 September 13th, 2016|Categories: Open Day / Evening, Third Level|