The academic transitional experiences of masters’ students at the University of the Western Cape22 Jul 2013
Transition has been a major focus of educational institutions. However, most of the research into student transition focuses on the challenges related the transition from high school to university. Not much emphasis has been placed on the transition from undergraduate to postgraduate studies, despite the steadily increasing postgraduate enrolment rates in higher education institutions. The discrepancy between the enrolment and completion rates is an indication that postgraduate students are facing transitional challenges when engaging with postgraduate studies. The aim of this research study was to describe the academic transitional experiences of masters’ students in the Faculty of Community Health Sciences at the University of the Western Cape. The objectives were to determine the academic preparedness of postgraduate students, to explore their primary motivations for pursuing postgraduate studies, and to assess their utilisation of the available support services at UWC. A quantitative, exploratory, descriptive research design was employed. A cross-sectional survey was conducted with masters’ students during 2009, using convenience sampling. Data was statistically analysed using the SPSS to provide descriptive statistics. The majority of the sample indicated a lack of academic preparedness, even though most of them had a bachelor’s degree. The primary reasons listed as motivation for master’s study were to improve knowledge and reaching self-actualisation. The majority is still eager to complete their studies. Most support systems were utilised and students rated these services as a positive experience that facilitates smooth academic transition. However, concerns are that not many students utilised the academic writing centre and those who did, rated the overall service as average. One of the main recommendations was that a research culture needs to be established at undergraduate level, as this would give students greater exposure to research activities.