Learning experiences of first year psychology students at an institution of higher education
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This study reports on learning challenges that first-year Psychology students experience at an institution of higher education (HE). The aim of the study was to determine and understand first-year Psychology students' learning experience of academic learning, social learning and other environmental aspects that have an influence on learning during their first-year. A qualitative research method was applied to explore students' learning experiences and perceptions of how to manage workload and challenges that students face during their first-year study. The convenient sampling method was applied in the study. The data was collected through an open-ended questionnaire and a face-to-face interview with one Psychology lecturer. The data of the study was analysed by means of content analysis where themes developed from responses of participants. Most first-year students are expected to become autonomous students in their learning throughout their undergraduate degree and beyond. They are exposed to various environments at the university such as the library, lecture halls which are much bigger than classes in secondary school, tutorial classes and other aspects which include teaching and learning styles, study methods, writing assignments, tests, examinations, assessments criteria and working in groups. First year students need support from lecturers, peers and other role players to assist with the transition process from secondary school to HE. The implication of the study is that during transition process, there is a huge possibility that students could drop out and even fail during the first semester. With the support from lecturers and more first year programmes students could adapt easily. In conclusion, students experience a myriad of challenges during their first year even though challenges may not be the same. Students are not sure what to expect from the university. Social activities such residence activities or Receive and Give (RAG), lack of support from lecturers, poor time management, the transition process, financial constraints, and academic workload and lecturers feedback emerged as the factors having the greatest impact on students' learning and academic success.