The effects of Covid-19 on student transition from school to university in STEM subjects

Daniel Cottle


Covid‑19 restrictions affected most of the post‑16 learning experience of the students who will begin university courses in STEM in the UK in autumn 2021. Ongoing disruption to learning culminated in the cancellation of normal A-level examinations which were replaced with teacher assessments. Informal discussion with secondary school teaching colleagues reveals some possible consequences for the students’ transition to degree level study in STEM subjects. The main suggestion is that, despite the resilience that students have shown both academically and socially, there have been significant omissions from the normally studied curriculum that may affect their progress on degree courses in STEM including: lack of experimental practice and skills, lack of specific subject knowledge and lack of experience of assessment.


Transition; covid-19

Full Text:



Department for Education (2021) How qualifications will be awarded in 2021. Available at : (Accessed: 29/07/21)

Fisher, S. & Hodd, B. (1987) The stress of the transition to university: A longitudinal study of psychological disturbance, absent-mindedness and vulnerability to homesickness. British Journal of Psychology 78, 425-441. DOI: 10.1111/j.2044-8295.1987.tb02260.x

Gale, T. & Parker, S. (2014) Navigating change: a typology of student transition in higher education. Studies in Higher Education 39(5) 734-753. DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2012.721351

Skinner, K. (2014) Bridging gaps and jumping through hoops: First-year History students’ expectations and perceptions of assessment and feedback in a research-intensive UK university. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education. 13(4), 359-376. DOI: 10.1177/1474022214531502

Smith, C. (2012) Improving the school-to-university transition: using a problem-based approach to teach practical skills whilst simultaneously developing students’ independent study skills. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 13, 490-499. DOI: 10.1039/C2RP20096A


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
We use both functional and performance cookies to improve visitor experience. Continue browsing if you are happy to accept cookies. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.

New Directions in the Teaching of Natural Sciences

eISSN: 2753-4138

University Home