Perceptions of primary to secondary school transitions

Challenge or threat?

Erin Mackenzie*, Anne McMaugh, Kerry Ann O'Sullivan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)


Primary to secondary school transition has been identified as a significant and stressful event for young adolescent students. Recent research has focused on individual aspects of coping with the challenges of transition in order to determine features that may act as protective or harmful factors. This study employs a mixed-method design to examine student perceptions of transition in the pre- and post-transition period. Participants were 75 female students (28 in Year 6, 47 in Year 7) from an independent girls' school in Sydney, NSW. Perceptions of academic and social aspects of transition are explored using an online questionnaire and focus group interview. Results indicate both pre- and post-transition students have positive overall perceptions of the move to secondary school, although the pre-transition students reported a more positive perception than their post-transition counterparts. Having an older sibling at the secondary school was found to decrease social threat scores for pre-transition students. Results are discussed in terms of the cognitive-transactional theory of stress, and specific implications for educators are explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-314
Number of pages17
JournalIssues in Educational Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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