Academic journal article International Education Studies

Perceived Social Support and Well Being: First-Year Student Experience in University

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Perceived Social Support and Well Being: First-Year Student Experience in University

Article excerpt


The current study explored first-year student experience in receiving social support and its relation to their ability to adapt with university ethos. It also explored how social support on academic adjustment, social adjustment and emotional adjustment among students were significantly associated with student well-being. This qualitative research utilized individual semi-structured interview protocols to gather narrative data from 16 university students. All students were interviewed twice in order to see changes and developments in receiving social support from university community, peers and family members. Data were tape-recorded, transcribed and analyzed by using thematic approach. It was then coded by independent coders. It has been found in this study that academic adjustments, social adjustment and emotional among new students are dependent on their abilities in receiving socio-educational support from friends (supportive friendship) and families. Results also revealed the powerful influence of parents and the importance of socio-relationship for student wellbeing. This study suggests that the concept of social support should go further than simply identifying it within the context of a university. Findings of this study also indicate the importance of student community, senior students and family-networks in adapting to a new learning environment. There are cumulative evidences from this research to suggest different types of networks in a multicultural university. Students' self-management skills are found to be vital for smoothness of transition to universities.

Keywords: social support, well-being, university student, social networks, learning experience, socio-educational support

1. Introduction

Enhancing the quality of student learning experience has become national priority in most higher education institutions. Positive learning experience not only shape students' cognitive, feelings and behaviour but also improve their satisfaction. First-year at the university is situated within the broad conception of student experience. Ideally early years' experience of university has featured strongly as a time for students to develop the attitudes, behaviour, skills and knowledge that subsequently determine their overall assimilation into higher education (Harvey et al., 2006, Krause & Coates, 2008; Reason et al., 2006; Tumen et al., 2008). Therefore, it is always emphasized in the literature that students must be inspired, supported and developed in their sense of belonging. This is because students' initial experiences have an impact on the long-term process of cultural, social and academic assimilation into the world of higher education (Reason et al., 2006; Woosley, 2003; Yorke & Longden, 2008).

The first year best exemplified as transitional period, a time that bridges the gap between students' previous identities and new learning context. The meaning of transition varies with the context in which the term is used. Within educational field transition best viewed as a process-oriented phenomenon that involves individual response to change. According to Briggs, Clark, and Hall (2012, p. 2) 'transition involves learner creating for themselves a new identity as higher education students. Transition involves a passage of change (Lam & Pollard, 2006), a process in which individuals shiftfrom one constructed identity to another that bring shifts in culture, identity, role and status, routines, and relationships (Goodman, Schlossberg, & Anderson, 2006; Van Gennep, 1960).

There is an international trend towards more complex understanding of the learner, accompanied by growing consensus on the need for more support to facilitate the differences that students bring to university. Efforts to improve student experience, and the ways in which the quality of learning experience are concerned about and can be improved are fundamental research topics by scholars across the USA (e. …

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