“This is what you need to be learning”: an analysis of messages received by first-year mathematics students during their transition to university

This paper explores the messages that first-year mathematics students receive in the context of their academic studies during their transition from school to university mathematics. Through observations of lectures and discussions with first-year mathematics undergraduates in an English university, we identified and analysed the messages that two of their lecturers transmitted to them during this transitional phase. The results suggest that strongly framed messages are more easily perceived by students and affect them during their transition. Additionally, messages that have been received in the school context continue to have control over students’ thinking and on many occasions can impede adjustment to the new setting.