• Transitions and student wellbeing in higher education: Exploring the role of Independent Learning Skills

      D'Artrey, Meriel; Wall, Tony; Rowlett, Debbie (University of Chester, 2020-09-10)
      The number of reported mental health issues amongst university students continues to rise, affecting student attainment and progression. Within this context, this study explores students’ experiences of wellbeing during transition to university, specifically exploring the under-researched area of how Independent Learning Skills (ILS) and wellbeing interrelate. A novel conceptual framework combining aspects of ILS and wellbeing was constructed which then informed semi-structured interviews with university business school students and a Template Analysis. The study found a variety of ways in which the development of ILS and student wellbeing can be helped and hindered during transition to university, for example, how student and university practices appear to affect ILS and wellbeing. As such, this study sits in contrast to previous research in combining two areas not typically combined to examine student transition, offering new practical insights into supporting students. Key contributions that have been made as a result of this research include a deeper understanding of the relationship between specific ILS skills and specific elements of wellbeing. The experiences that students had were found to be inconsistent relating to academic support and these experiences both positive and negative were shown to mediate the relationship between ILS and wellbeing. Early experiences of the students were shown to have an anchoring effect on ILS and wellbeing, for example not engaging with support offered by their Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) was later shown to have hindered achievements and feelings of wellbeing. The diversity of learning needs and preferences identified from the research was also found to relate to students’ development of ILS and associated feelings of wellbeing. Further research has been identified that seeks to explore the relationship between ILS and wellbeing to specific student outcomes, including student grades, retention and progression outcomes.