In-depth profiles of the expectations of undergraduate students commencing university: a Q methodological analysis

Kieran Balloo

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Research shows that undergraduate students have many expectations of their university as they commence studying. The current study utilised Q methodology to gain an in-depth understanding of these expectations by examining shared viewpoints between groups of students. First-year undergraduate psychology students ranked statements in their induction week on expectations of university regarding teaching and assessment approaches, lecturer behaviour, organisational and resources support and issues relating to student autonomy. Factor analysis of these ranks revealed three profiles of expectations that were labelled and interpreted holistically in qualitative detail: Expecting to put in the hard work and be supported by tutors, Expecting a different experience to high school and Expecting to strike a balance between university and everyday life. These profiles demonstrate that students’ expectations should not be discussed in homogeneous terms. Recommendations are made for educators in terms of understanding discrepancies between expectations and the service which will be provided.

© 2017, Taylor and Francis. The attached document (embargoed until 08/11/2018) is an author produced version, uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2251-2262
Issue number12
Early online date8 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2018


  • expectations of university
  • transition
  • feedback
  • teaching quality
  • Q methodology

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