“Should I stay or should I go?” : first semester students’ experiences in a tertiary institution in New Zealand
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Permanent link to Research Bank record:http://hdl.handle.net/10652/2314
“Should I stay or should I go”, a song by The Clash (1982) sums up the dilemma some students face when they begin their journey in tertiary study. This research explores the experiences of a group of students from one cohort in their first semester of a Bachelor Degree programme for early childhood education. In particular it examines what enabled the students to be successful, what barriers they faced and what motivated them to keep going. This qualitative single case study utilised a range of data collecting tools. The methods used were a questionnaire for students; a student focus group and an academic staff focus group. Each data method was analysed, coded thematically and reported separately before being discussed in themes. The findings of this research reveal that the participants experienced some challenges that were predominately external to the institution. What kept them in the programme was the significant level of support received from their Academic Advisor; the academic staff, their peers, the cohort system and their families. The students’ motivation to stay was primarily intrinsic in nature. Their positive attitude towards their studies and pride in their progress enabled them to keep going. The main barriers identified by the students were related to personal circumstances and were often a combination of factors rather than one single factor. However, there were also a number of institutional barriers identified. These were the perceived differences between the satellite campus and the main campus regarding the levels of support; joining an existing cohort of students; and the differences between the student’s cultural capital and the cultural capital the institution trades in. Amongst the implications for this research is that support is critical to retention and success. Therefore it is recommended that this institute conducts a feasibility study to investigate the cost of providing this level of support against the cost of attrition and a centralised support system. Pastoral care plays an important role in retention and success. An indication from this research is that first year students need lecturers who are pastorally minded and are culturally responsive to their needs. Another recommendation is that professional development be provided for staff regarding supporting students with serious personal issues. This research has also shown that there is a need to address the issues students face when they cross-credit into the programme from another institution, specifically in relation to the induction process.