Balloo, Kieran (2018). In-depth profiles of the expectations of undergraduate students commencing university: A Q methodological analysis. Studies in Higher Education, 43(12), 2251-2262. (doi: 10.1080/03075079.2017.1320373)

Abstract: Research shows that undergraduate students have many expectations of their university as they commence studying. The current study utilised Q methodology to gain an in-depth understanding of these expectations by examining shared viewpoints between groups of students. First-year undergraduate psychology students ranked statements in their induction week on expectations of university regarding teaching and assessment approaches, lecturer behaviour, organisational and resources support and issues relating to student autonomy. Factor analysis of these ranks revealed three profiles of expectations that were labelled and interpreted holistically in qualitative detail: Expecting to put in the hard work and be supported by tutors, Expecting a different experience to high school and Expecting to strike a balance between university and everyday life. These profiles demonstrate that students’ expectations should not be discussed in homogeneous terms. Recommendations are made for educators in terms of understanding discrepancies between expectations and the service which will be provided.

Kieran Balloo <kieran.balloo@roehampton.ac.uk> is in the Department of Psychology, University of Roehampton, London, UK.

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