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A snapshot of Information Skills Training Experience in Students
Transitioning from Further Education (FE) to Higher Education (HE)
UCL School of Pharmacy is part of the Faculty of Life Sciences at University
College London (UCL). It offers one undergraduate degree, the four-year Masters
in Pharmacy (MPharm), as well as several taught postgraduate and research
postgraduate degrees. Each year, 180-230 new undergraduate students enrol.
For the past four years, the School of Pharmacy Library has invited freshers to
complete a brief and anonymous survey during induction week. The survey is
designed to generate a very broad picture of new students’ interactions with
information sources and an indication of their previous experiences of learning
Library staff deliver two separate workshops to year 1 students in semester one.
Workshop one is on Information Resources; workshop two is on Referencing and
Plagiarism. The data from the survey is used in the preparation and delivery of the
second workshop, enabling facilitators to tailor the content according to students’
The concept of transition from FE to HE has been the focus of much recent
research. Many Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have established extensive
transition and induction programmes to mitigate the challenges faced by new
students, in particular social isolation, displacement and the novelty of independent
living 1-3. HEIs recognise the significance of transition not just on the wellbeing of
the student but on the enduring academic performance as well 4,5. Improving the
transition experience of international students in the UK is a strategic objective of
many HEIs and the subject of current research 6.
On the first day of freshers’ week, the School of Pharmacy Library runs a welcome
stall in the main reception area of the building, greeting new students as they arrive
for local induction. Library staff introduce themselves to the students and distribute
library induction packs and freebies. From 2014 until 2016, library staff mingled
with the gathering cohort, inviting individual students to answer 5 questions in an
anonymous survey using iPads. Three of the questions pertain to information-
seeking behaviour and instruction, the results of which are presented here. There
were 94 responses in 2014, 68 responses in 2015 and 69 responses in 2016.
To increase participation and sample size, it was decided in 2017 to present the
same questionnaire to the students in the first workshop instead of during the
induction welcome. As a result, 179 responses were gathered.
In March 2018, the two questions about sourcing information were posed again to
all undergraduate students via email. 43 individuals responded.
Results and Discussion
Over 50% of respondents had either not received instruction on how to cite
literature or were unsure if they had received instruction. This indicates that new
students are enrolling with a variability of experience, variability of comprehension
and variability of confidence.
New students over the four years have been consistent in their assessment of the
indicators of trustworthy websites. The data could suggest that transitioning
students have an intuitive or experiential appreciation of the markers of quality.
Online sources are the main targets of healthcare information for these new
healthcare professionals, although significantly not social media.
Limitations and Future Research
No distinction was made between transitioning students and returning students
(students embarking upon higher education for the first time following a gap from
further education). Whilst useful to the preparation of the workshops, the sample
sizes of 2015 and 2016 represent 30-40% of the total intake of new students which
compromises the validity of any findings.
No distinction was made between UK/EU and International students. This is an
area of potential future examination so that the Library is better able to meet
student’s diverse needs based on the diversity of their experiences.
1. Brooman S, Darwent S. Measuring the beginning: a quantitative study of the
transition to higher education. Studies in Higher Education. 2014;39(9):1523-41.
2. Dias D, Sá MJ. The Impact of the Transition to HE: emotions, feelings and
sensations. European Journal of Education. 2014;49(2):291-303.
3. Turner R, Morrison D, Cotton D, Child S, Stevens S, Nash P, et al. Easing the
transition of first year undergraduates through an immersive induction module.
Teaching in Higher Education. 2017;22(7):805-21.
4. Christie H, Tett L, Cree VE, McCune V. ‘It all just clicked’: a longitudinal
perspective on transitions within university. Studies in Higher Education.
5. Tett L, Cree V, Christie H. From further to higher education: transition as an on-
going process. Higher Education (00181560). 2017;73(3):389-406.
6. Ecochard S, Fotheringham J. International Students' Unique Challenges - Why
Understanding International Transitions to Higher Education Matters. Journal of
Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice. 2017;5(2):100-8.
UCL School of Pharmacy Library
Type Tendonitis into
Search web for
GP appointment Ask a Pharmacist Consult a reference
Call a friend Ask Facebook #tendonitis
Information Seeking Behaviours
Last Update Contact Us
Domain About Us Section Feedback Tool Loads Quickly Images Adverts
Characteristics of a trustworthy website
2014 2015 2016 2017
Did you learn how to cite at FE college or school?
Did you learn how to cite literature at your Further Education College or school?
What makes a website trustworthy? (Tick as many as apply)
It is one of the top results on Google
It tells you who wrote the information
There are images
It tells you when the page was last updated
It has adverts
The domain in the address
You can comment or leave feedback
There is an About Us section
It loads quickly
There is a Contact Us section
What would you do to get some information about treatments for tendonitis? (Rank in order - 1 being the first
thing you would do, 8 being the last.)
Type 'treatments for tendonitis' into Google
Make an appointment with your GP
Ask your friends on Facebook or other sites
Consult a reference book
Search the web for appropriate sources, e.g. type NHS into Google
Ask a pharmacist
Search Twitter #Tendonitis
Ring a friend or family member who may know
Three information-seeking behaviour related questions posed in survey