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Engaging students in academic transitions –A case of two projects using student voice and technology to personalise the experience Dr Monika Foster Edinburgh Napier University
Overview • Academic transitions • 2 cases of support - What’s in them for you? • Discussion and ways forward
Academic transitions • A wider student experience – positive as well as • negative (Ballard and Clanchy, 1994) • Feelings of being inadequately prepared, ‘in the dark’ • (Burns, 1991) • Major challenges: English, social and cultural • adjustment and study methods (Bamford, 2008) • ‘Comfort zone strategies’: Students looking for help • from peers (Lowe and Cook, 2003) • A ‘whole student’ approach required to achieve a • mutually desirable outcome (students and staff) • (Robertson et al, 2000).
Engaging students in academic transitions • Approach informed by research at ENU and work with partners in China and India • Recognising the value of early relationship building and working with peers • Need for skills focused, not information driven, induction, with student input if possible • Using the power (and appeal!) of technology • Challenge: not just to find and implement effective mechanisms to close the gap but to engage the students in the transition and induction Your experience?
Case 1 – Online study skills resource SPICE • Student Pre-arrival Induction for Continuing Education (SPICE) developed in 2008-9 • Includes generic skills: Study at the University, Time management, Working in tutorial groups, Planning for assessments, Academic Writing • Subject specific skills for programmes receiving large numbers of international students: Hospitality, Computing, Accounting, Engineering • Task based, feedback on completion, tracking progress. • Student voices throughout • Used with Year 2 students in preparation for direct entry to year 3 in Edinburgh (partner universities) • SPICE UK, SPICE CHINA, SPICE INTERNATIONAL • Work in progress, too early to evaluate, but very positive feedback
Case 1 – Online study skills resource SPICE cont’d • Work on student voices revealed the depth of gap and student ways of coping with it: Contact hours“In India, the college starts at 8, ends by 6 pm so we have 10-12 hours of college course a day so you go on studying. But here, if students come 6 – 9 hours a week, that’s enough to give you the basic idea to give you the degree. (In India) Here, I was first confused, you should have the initiative, you should take the initiative , you should have the courage to go about it and show your knowledge.” Assessment “The first assessment here was the first time I did anything like this, writing an essay or a report, analysing literature, writing a case study. I didn’t know how I am supposed to go about it, and what will be the marks, and if I fail, what happens then. So, this made me very nervous and confused.In India, we didn’t use the reference rule that much.”
Case 1 – Online study skills resource SPICE cont’d • Quotes from students in Edinburgh and SPICE activities presented to students in India and asked for their reactions: We know little about what is awaiting for us in Edinburgh so this is very useful for us to make us less anxious. The change from what we do now is going be very big but we know our colleagues who are in Edinburgh now did this and they do well so it makes us feel better about trying ourselves. A lot of the examples are completely new to me. I want to know more about them and how to do well at Napier. Example: www.spice-china.napier.ac.uk
Case 2 – E-mentoring scheme on Hospitality Management • Matching students in Year 2 India with year 3 students in Edinburgh • Team work with colleagues from Student Affairs: training in mentoring skills and ongoing support • Tapping into a cultural preference to get advice from ‘seniors’ rather then the University • Interactive where possible by using Elluminate Live and Wiki • Mentees get pastoral and academic advice, they develop a habit of asking for advice. Mentors acquire new skills, know where to direct students for help and use more help themselves • Plans to continue the scheme with more emphasis on opening a dialogue with the students in India and in Edinburgh through focus groups, improved structure and timings.
Cases 1 and 2 Benefits: • Students feel they ‘belong’ before they begin their programmes of study; a sense of early achievement • Building early relationship and enabling tracking student academic progress • Innovative practice recognised by HEA, NUS, SPARQS as examples of engaging students in transitions • Easy to adapt to different contexts. Challenges: • Support from the University / funding • Sustainability and adapting them as wider University practices • Disseminating the good practice to new programmes • Making links with existing support and liaising with PLs
What’s in this for me? I will try to adapt in my context the following: 1) 2) 3)
References (1) Ballard, B. and Clanchy, J. (1994) Study Abroad: A Manual for Asian Students. Melbourne: Longman Bamford, J. (2008) Strategies for the Improvement of International Students’ Academic and Cultural Experiences of Studying in the UK. In: Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network: Enhancing Series: Internationalisation, November 2008. Biggs, J., (1994) Asian learners through Western eyes: an astigmatic paradox, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Vocational Educational Research, 2, 2, 40-63. Burns, R.B. (1991) Study and Stress Among First Year Overseas Students in an Australian University. Higher Education Research and Development 10 (1) 61-77 Fry H., and Ketteridge S., (2003) "A Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education", Kogan Page, London.
References (2) Hyland, F. Trahar, S. Anderson, J. Dickens, A. 2008. A changing world: the internationalisation experiences of staff and students (home and international) in UK Higher Education. HEA Escalate Subject Centre Lowe, H. & Cook, A. (2003) Mind the Gap: Are Students Prepared for Higher Education. Journal of Further & Higher Education 27(1), pp.53–76. Robertson, M., Line, M., Jones, S. and Thomas, S. (2000) International Students: Learning Environments and Perceptions: A Case Study Using the Delphi Technique. Higher Education Research and Development 19(1), 89-102 Warwick, P. (2008) Listening to International Students. In: Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network: Enhancing Series: Internationalisation, November 2008.