‘This is Not Something You Solve in Week One of Third Year’: Applying a Transitions Perspective to Honours Learning and Teaching in an Undergraduate Degree Programme


  • Abby Shovlin University of Edinburgh
  • Pamela Docherty University of Edinburgh




transitions, undergraduate, mathematics, holistic, Honours


Transitions as a concept is gaining increasing traction in both academic development and student experience enhancement, but little has been written about how it can be used to design research studies into learning and teaching. This paper demonstrates how a transitional perspective has been used to inform an exploratory study of the move from second to third year in an undergraduate maths degree at a large Scottish university. This perspective takes the staff and student experience into account and looks at third year not in isolation, but as part of an entire programme. In doing so, this study is able to offer a deeper understanding of this transition in mathematics which generates questions about the nature of the undergraduate learning and teaching environment for practitioners both within and beyond the discipline.

Author Biographies

Abby Shovlin, University of Edinburgh

Abby Shovlin is the University of Edinburgh’s Academic Transitions Advisor. She works with both students and staff to enhance academic transitions into, through and out of university. Her work encompasses both quantitative and qualitative research into transitions and designing and piloting new resources and approaches in collaboration with staff.

Pamela Docherty, University of Edinburgh

Pamela Docherty is the Student Learning Advisor in the School of Mathematics at the University of Edinburgh. She supports students in their learning of mathematics at all levels of undergraduate study, and has interests in mathematical pedagogy in higher education.


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Original Research