Conceptualising primary to secondary school transitions: A systematic literature review

Divya Jindal-Snape, Jennifer Symonds, Beth Hannah, William Barlow

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    Despite continued international interest in primary-secondary transitions, there do not appear to be any systematic literature reviews that have analysed primary-secondary school transition ontology, i.e. researchers’ worldviews, theories/models and frameworks. This is a major gap and concerning given that it is difficult to trust the robustness of a study if its basic foundation, such as researchers’ conceptualisation of transitions, is not visible. Our objectives were to explore researchers’ and research participants’ conceptualisation of transitions, the conceptual framework used by the researchers and their discourse about transitions.

    Using the EPPI-centre approach, we undertook a systematic literature review of empirical studies published internationally between 2008 and 2018.

    Of the 96 studies, most had not clearly defined transition, and even when conceptualisation was explicit, it did not underline the research design or frame the findings. Most researchers adopted previously used conceptualisations and theoretical frameworks and, therefore, we are no further forward in terms of a meta-theory/world view. Further, the majority of studies did not report participants’ conceptualisation of transitions. Of concern is that the majority of researchers used a negative discourse about primary-secondary transitions, with some mixed views and only two papers had a primarily positive discourse.


    This systematic literature review is the first study to provide a review of school transition ontology and offers unique insights into the conceptual and methodological gaps that the international research community should address.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2019
    EventSchool of Education and Social Work Research and Scholarship Conference 2019 - Dalhousie Building, Dundee, United Kingdom
    Duration: 13 Dec 201913 Dec 2019


    ConferenceSchool of Education and Social Work Research and Scholarship Conference 2019
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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