Loughborough University
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Junior to senior transition: understanding and facilitating the process

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posted on 2011-02-18, 11:40 authored by Elizabeth K.L. Pummell
The aim of this thesis is to produce a substantive grounded theory of junior-to-senior transition and as a result of this work, to provide knowledge and guidance for coaches, sport psychologists and other personnel supporting young aspirant athletes. Underpinned by a social constructionist philosophy, the research programme was designed to capture and interpret the social world of the participants and to interpret the perceptions derived from their own lived experience of the transition. The thesis consists of three studies which, in a concatenated programme of research, are predicated one upon another. In order that understanding in social research can be advanced, the development of theory requires several rounds of fieldwork, analysis and publication (Stebbins, 1992,2006). Thus the building of theory took place over the initial two studies, the first of which involved the in-depth interviewing of nine participants from individual sports (M age = 24.5 years, S. D. = 4.3 years). As a consequence of this exercise, rich data were collected, depicting the participants' experiences of the juniorsenior transition. Grounded in these data, a preliminary model of junior-to-senior transition was constructed using Strauss and Corbin's (1998) guidelines for grounded theory analysis. More specifically, the resultant model revealed a cyclical process: of learning, identity development and progress at transition. Inception of the process is characterised by immersion in the post-transition environment during the pre-transition phase, in which significant observational learning occurs via the use of more senior role models. This process leads to the identification of discrepancies between the actual (or junior) and ideal (or senior) self. This promotes a period of adjustment in which the behaviours relevant to senior status are incorporated within the self, bringing about a sense of readiness, or ability to cope with the transition. In essence, the athletes had sought to structure their pre-transition environment to represent that which they would encounter post-transition, thereby generating stability for their self-identity. The modification of identity, through the adjustment of behaviours and roles, predicted a competitive breakthrough, at which point the athletes began to think about the subsequent step at senior level, and hence the cycle of immersion, learning and adjustment continued. (Continues...).



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


© E.K.L. Pummell

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Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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  • en