Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Dr. Dan J. Belliveau


In the transition to university, students may hold expectations about university life: how their classes, friendships, and support networks would change in university. They may need to adjust their time management skills and study strategies to better suit the new self-directed learning environment, while grappling with psychosocial and emotional changes resulting from the new social and living environments. ‘University readiness’ provided the context and rationale for development of a pre-university online course, Leg UP: An Introduction to Health Across the Lifespan. This program was evaluated in a quasi-experimental study to assess its effectiveness at easing students’ transition to university in the areas of academic achievement and adjustment. Academic achievement was measured by achieved grades and academic adjustment was measured by scores on the Student Adaption to College Questionnaire (SACQ). The results of two multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) suggest (1) Leg UP participants achieved higher grades, and (2) Leg UP participants achieved higher scores on the SACQ, specifically in the ‘attachment’ subscale. Furthermore, a qualitative study was conducted to describe the lived experience of first- and second-year students in the School of Health Studies in their transition to university. This study was situated within an interpretivist paradigm and the methodology of phenomenology; where my interpretation of the accounts of students who experienced the phenomenon of transitioning to university is offered. Interpretive phenomenological analysis was conducted on focus group and interview data collected in order to present a rich, descriptive account of their personal experiences. Findings from this study suggest six overall themes in describing the phenomenon of transitioning to university: Uncertainty, Expectations (and adjusting expectations), Living Arrangement, Pressure, Independence and Identity, and Support. The significance of the combined studies reinforces the need to understand and support students in their transition to university. In doing so, institutions may be encouraged to develop or adapt existing transition strategies to best fit the needs of their unique student populations. This research also has potential for application outside of the area of higher education, wherein close examination of ‘transitions’ in broad terms can encourage a better understanding of individual experiences during pivotal, life-altering moments.