Tobbell, Jane and O'Donnell, Victoria (2013) Entering Postgraduate Study: A Qualitative Study of a Neglected Transition. International Journal for Cross-Disciplinary Subjects in Education, 4 (1). ISSN 2042-6364

In this paper we demonstrate that whilst attention has been given to other educational transitions, the postgraduate experience has been largely ignored. We suggest this may be due to assumptions of expertise in that group. Here we consider literature together with data from a one year, multi-methods study into postgraduate transition. The literature and data suggest that postgraduate students lead complex lives and require targeted support to enable their study. The participants here did not position themselves as expert, confident learners but instead suffered a range of doubts surrounding their study skills and ability to manage the different aspects of their lives. University practices did not always support their struggles. We use communities of practice theory to understand the participatory transition trajectories. We end by acknowledging that this research represents a small percentage of postgraduate students in the particular context of the UK and call for further research in different contexts to develop our understanding of postgraduate transition.

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