Student experience


This article presents a typology of student mindset on commencing their studies at university. Using the results of a sample of over 400 first-year humanities students enrolled in a generalist degree at a mid-tier metropolitan university, we performed a cluster analysis informed by self-reported student motivation, preparedness and perceived support. Four types were generated: the ‘Coasters,’ the ‘Reluctants,’ the ‘Passionates’ and the ‘Fight or Flights.’ The types generated exhibit a statistically significant correlation with final grade achieved. The predictive power of the generated types indicates that this form of typology is an appropriate conceptual model for understanding student success in the first-year context. As participation in higher education widens, scholarship has triggered a rethinking of the factors that determine student engagement and success across increasingly diverse cohorts. Our analysis shows that student mindset on commencing university, in conjunction with other factors including socio-economic circumstances and course preference, has significant impact on student success.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Addressing the impact commencing student mindset can have on student success
  2. Exploring the relationship between commencing students' achievement and self reported feelings of preparedness, motivation and perceived support
  3. Defining broad 'mindset types' evident in commencing Bachelor of Arts students using cluster analysis
  4. Builds on existing international research into characterisation of the student experience and transition to university
  5. Offers insight into supporting diverse student cohorts as part of widening participation in Higher Education

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