Exploring students’ unlearning development during transitions into and through higher education

Researcher: Karen Gravett

Institution: University of Surrey

Research Year: 2020

Project aims:

Student transitions are a central part of higher education policy and practice internationally. However much of the work within this important area is underpinned by unquestioned and limited assumptions of what transition as a concept might mean. Moreover, too often understandings of transition defer to narratives that sustain a stereotypic understanding of students’ experiences. This study contributes to a major shift in our understanding of the notion of transition. In order to do so, I draw upon Meyer and Land’s theory of threshold concepts, and from the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari, to contest established understandings of students’ experiences. I propose a new approach to re-theorising and doing transition comprising three intertwined perspectives: transitions as rhizomatic; transitions as troublesome; and transitions as becoming. The article ends with a consideration of how these concepts could impact upon practice and offers an agenda for further research.