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Transition skills

Phase 1 - Supporting students to develop new skills and strategies for successful transitions

As part of the Student Transitions Enhancement Theme, QAA Scotland commissioned a project during the academic year 2014-15  to examine transition skills and strategies that a student might develop and put to use during a transition - or period of change.

There are numerous aspects to transitions, including the student’s sense of ‘belonging’ to their institution, how students are engaged with their academic work as well as the development of graduate attributes. Underpinning these are factors such as resilience, self-efficacy, critical self-reflection, mindfulness all of which can assist students in having positive transition experiences by successfully managing change.

Aims and objectives

The overall aim of this project was to provide students and staff with a suite of resources which will allow them to gain an understanding of transitions but also to recognise and face these changes as a normal part of higher education.

This project examined models of transition and their applicability to higher education. Literature reviews identified evidence-based key transition skills along with practical strategies staff and students can engage in to enable successful transitions.

The following eight transition skills (along with staff and student strategies) were identified in these reports: 

Navigating change

  • self-efficacy
  • self-management of expectations
  • social skills for embracing diversity
  • dealing with stress


Skills for academic study

  • critical self-reflection
  • independent learning
  • critical thinking
  • academic and information literacy


This project was led by Dr Ming Cheng, Lecturer in the Academic Development Unit at the University of Glasgow (now based at the University of Wolverhampton) and a team of researchers at the University of Glasgow. 

The reports for the skill self-efficacy have been utilised by QAA Scotland and the following resources have been developed: 

All resources are in an editable format to enable individuals to contextualize according to specific subject/department/faculty. How best to ‘translate’ information from literature reviews into practical and useful materials is a continual area of work.

Following a call for expressions of interest for further related work in this area, Ms Elaine Smith and Dr Barry Beggs, both based at Glasgow Caledonian University, will be working with us on Phase 2 of this project. Please use the hashtag #ETtransitionskills on Twitter to keep up to date with developments in this project.