Final Year Student Transition and E-learning Support for Academic Re-Integration Following a Period of Work Placement or Study Exchange


  • Margaret-Anne Houston Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Lindsey Carey Glasgow Caledonian University



student transition, e-learning, study exchange, student re-integration, research methods, dissertation


This research identifies issues surrounding transitioning final year students after work placement or study exchange, with the view to assessing the perceived need for a blended e-learning approach for dissertation preparation. Literature has identified that transitioning student experiences can contribute to an achievement gap compared to their static peer group: shifting social identities of students on return from placement year and feelings of alienation within their home institution (Auburn, 2007); the level of support experienced differing between home and host institutions (Raikou & Thanassis, 2007); and information gained from peers rated higher than from their own universities (Alfaro, Boullosa, Andreu‐Besó, De Lamo, Sobrado, Sanz & Arias, 2009). To date, few studies identify transitioning student centred issues with regard to dissertation preparation. This study utilised an extended quantitative questionnaire, building on a previous exploratory study (Houston & Carey, 2014). Data from focus groups with students and relevant teaching staff was triangulated and thematically analysed to inform the quantitative questionnaire. This was electronically distributed over a two-year period to all relevant level 4 students. Preliminary results evidence a negative perception of being treated differently than their peers who remained on campus. The cohort also placed a high expectation on the home institution in ensuring a structured approach to preparation for their return, whilst also identifying confusion with the nature and aim of the communication received. A majority stated they would access an online resource whilst on placement or exchange only with an element of home staff interaction. However, some did not consider any preparation for their return to home studies to be appropriate. The most effective form of support would be a mixture of pre-placement/exchange support, contact whilst away and again at the placement/exchange end. Results also indicated a possible mismatch with the information provided and that sought during transition.

Author Biographies

Margaret-Anne Houston, Glasgow Caledonian University

Dr Margaret-Anne Houston, Senior Lecturer in Consumer Policy, Dept. Law, Economics, Accountancy and Risk, Glasgow Caledonian University. Her research and teaching interests include: business regulation and competition issues; food issues; and research methods.

Lindsey Carey, Glasgow Caledonian University

Dr Lindsey Carey, Senior Lecturer in Consumer Behaviour and Fashion, Dept. Business Management, Glasgow Caledonian University. Her research and teaching interests include: food issues; consumer behaviour within fashion; and research methods.


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Original Research