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Aspirations Through Time

About the Research

What is transition planning?

Transition planning involves preparing young people to live in the adult world through the development of post-school goals and engagement in activities that offer young people the skills to successfully participate and navigate adult settings. In secondary schooling, transition planning has become an important process supporting students to learn about their skills, start articulating their interests and aspirations, and begin to plan their post-school educational and career goals.

So what is the problem?

Research in Australia shows that post-school outcomes for students with disability are poorer when compared to their peers without disabilities (Hatfield, Ciccarelli, Falkmer, & Falkmer, 2017; Hatfield, Falkmer, Falkmer, & Ciccarelli, 2016; Hedley et al., 2017; Roberts & Simpson, 2016). Although there is a large body of research supporting that effective transition planning improves post-school outcomes for individuals with disability, current research about transition planning practices in Queensland schools is limited, particularly in relation to students with disability.

Why is this research project important?

Findings from this research project can provide important insights on how to better support young people with disability in schools and during post-school transition planning. In turn, there is a potential to positively influence the post-school outcomes for students with disability.


The objectives of this research project are to explore the transition planning experiences of students with disability who attend mainstream schools in Queensland, Australia, and to examine whether and how these experiences in the senior years of schooling may influence and shape students’ educational and career aspirations.

Research Question

The main question framing this study is:

How do students with disability experience the transition planning process in their senior years of schooling?


This project brings together multi-case study and qualitative longitudinal approaches to investigate the transition planning experiences of students with disability and their educational and career aspirations through time.

A key principle that underpins this study is Participatory Research. This involves the use of flexible methodology to allow broader engagement and genuine participant contribution. In order to support this principle, a Project Advisory Group (PAG) has been created. The PAG members provide advice and support to the research team in relation to some aspects of research design, language and participant support.


Hatfield, M., Ciccarelli, M., Falkmer, T., & Falkmer, M. (2017). Factors related to successful transition planning for adolescents on the autism spectrum. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 18(1), 1-12. doi:10.1111/1471-3802.12388

Hatfield, M., Falkmer, M., Falkmer, T., & Ciccarelli, M. (2016). Evaluation of the effectiveness of an online transition planning program for adolescents on the autism spectrum: trial protocol. Child and adolescent psychiatry and mental health, 10(48), 1-11. doi:10.1186/s13034-016-0137-0

Hedley, D., Uljarević, M., Cameron, L., Halder, S., Richdale, A., & Dissanayake, C. (2017). Employment programmes and interventions targeting adults with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review of the literature. Autism, 21(8), 929-941. doi:10.1177/1362361316661855

Roberts, J., & Simpson, K. (2016). A review of research into stakeholder perspectives on inclusion of students with autism in mainstream schools. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 20(10), 1084-1096. doi:10.1080/13603116.2016.1145267

This research has been reviewed and approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of Queensland University of Technology (QUT), approval number 1900000836.

I acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation and the traditional custodians of the lands where we live, learn and work.