This report is a result of a series of events run by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) team during the academic year 2013-14.
Tackling transition in STEM disciplines project engaged a total of 381 delegates, including academics, teachers, students and other stakeholder group representatives, across eight STEM disciplines, in strategic discussions about the issues faced by students making the transition from pre-tertiary education into studying STEM within higher education. A large corpus of qualitative data was generated through correspondence, report and evaluation of these events, which was analysed thematically.Five overarching themes were identified:
- Strategic importance of student transition into higher education;
- The STEM student journey;
- Student preparedness for transition from pre-tertiary education to higher education;
- Awareness, communication and transition from pre-tertiary
- Change and collaborative initiatives to ease transition.
Within these themes, there was considerable consensus between delegates regarding key issues faced by students and educators, and important priorities that need to be addressed. Transition was recognised as one of the most important issues facing STEM educators at the current time, and it was noted that transitions occur throughout the student journey, including from primary to secondary school, from school to sixth-form, and from undergraduate to postgraduate study or employment. Learning from other transitions could be an important feature of supporting students through the transitional experience.