I continue to share brief lessons from the modules in Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching. You can enrol now.

First year transition is Module 12 and part of the ‘Enhancing student learning’ pathway through the course.

Developed by Kathy Egea (University of Technology Sydney) and Jacqueline Melvold (University of Technology Sydney), this module introduces transition pedagogy.

For students new to university, the experience of transition “varies greatly depending on their entry pathways, preparedness, motivations, social networks and patterns of engagement” (Kift, 2015, p. 1). Many students adjust relatively easily, make friends, adapt to the new learning and thrive, whilst others find it overwhelming and consider leaving. Australian government statistics reveal that 13 to 15% of commencing domestic undergraduate students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree leave university studies completely in their first year (Department of Education, 2022). This is double the rate of attrition in later years of university study (Kift, 2015).

In all their diversity, students come to higher education to learn and it is within the first-year curriculum that students must be inspired, supported, and realise their sense of belonging; not only for early engagement and retention, but also as foundational for later year learning success and a lifetime of professional practice.

(Kift 2009, p. 1)

There are six First Year Curriculum Principles (FYCPs) linked to Transition Pedagogy:

Image created by Jacqueline Melvold for Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching.

The module provides definitions of these concepts with tangible classroom tips.

Let’s look at Transition more closely

Do you remember your first experiences of university? Perhaps you woke up as part of a new daily routine and logged onto systems and technologies you weren’t familiar with to ensure you went to the right place and were prepared for class. You headed into campus, probably at a location you weren’t too familiar with. You walked into your first class with people you most likely hadn’t met – both your peers and your academics – who had practices, knowledges and expectations that were different to yours.

What can teachers do to help?

1. Support students in moving from previous experiences to university study

  • Use the early classes to help orient students in their learning journey, feel supported, and that they belong and can succeed.
  • Introduce yourself to your students – you can tell them about your research, your industry experience, and how this relates to what they are learning along and fits with their degree (and future careers).
  • Create a space where students can form genuine connections with one another and their academics.
  • Find out about students’ expectations and previous experiences.
  • Talk about your expectations, classroom protocols, how to learn in this subject, and why the subject (and content) is relevant.
  • Scaffolding learning support to build the capacity of students to become independent learners.
  • Introduce students to the wider university support services (e.g. library, student support, etc.).

2. Prepare students to see transition as an ongoing experience

  • Encourage students to take opportunities as they arise.
  • Raising awareness of and building the capacity for students to manage the waves of demands – knowing there are peak times when assessments are due, when university services reach capacity in relation to assessment deadlines, and that many students feel stress and pressure during these times.
  • Embed academic literacies and communication skills into your subject – language of a university and discipline approaches/knowledges.
  • Discuss plagiarism and academic integrity – ways of working in a university.
  • Bring in student mentors to speak about the connections to the course, their experience, the challenges they face, and ways they succeeded in their studies.

3. Orient students to work, professional practice and careers

  • Support students to see themselves as entrants to their profession by treating them as such and using the language of the profession.
  • Contextualise your class activities in professional terms (draw on your own experience as a professional).
  • Support students to develop skills and practices that they can use in their future profession (e.g. time management, communication, collaboration, etc.).
  • Foster professional identity, e.g. through reflective writing. Bring in alumni who can speak to future professions/careers.

The module includes case studies and resources which highlight innovative practices of each principle in use in the classroom. There is a lot to explore – teamwork, academic integrity, building belonging. And that’s just the first principle of Transition! The module also covers Diversity, Design, Engagement, Assessment, and Evaluation and Monitoring.

Check it out – your students will thank you.

Enrol to access more content – it’s free!

The Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching MOOC is free, self-paced and open to all. You can choose to complete just one module, a whole pathway to receive a digital badge (which is 8 modules) or more. Each module takes approximately 2 hours.

MQ resources for teaching

Connect your students with support

Students can access support information by navigating from the current student landing page and by checking their MQ student email inbox every Monday for their student newsletter The Macquarie Feed.

  • General support
    Students can find answers to frequently asked questions at AskMQ or can drop into 18 Wally’s Walk and chat to Service Connect.
  • Academic support workshops
    Run by the Writing Centre and the Library these free academic workshops provide meaningful learning opportunities to develop the skills students need to succeed at university and in the workplace.
  • Becoming job ready
    The free MQ Employability Programs enhance graduate employability by helping students develop their skills and create a career plan.
  • Improving academic writing skills
    You can submit an online referral that connects a students with a Learning Advisor for a free individual consultation.
  • Gaining skill with numbers
    The Numeracy Centre has a number of free programs and workshops students can engage with.
  • Accessing wellbeing support
    You can submit a CARE report if you have concerns for a student’s wellbeing or the student can submit it themselves. Students can also manage their wellbeing using our free MQWellbeing app or can connect with online support from their peers via the free TalkCampus app.
  • PACE, learning and careers support
    Students can drop in and chat to our experts at Learning Connect. Learning Connect is on the ground floor of 18 Wally’s Walk and is staffed by our Careers, PACE and Learning Support experts.
  • Organising their study and assessments
    Students can use MyLearn to organise their study, keep up with learning activities and assessment tasks, monitor progress and gain insights into their study patterns.

Previous posts in this MOOC series

  1. Teaching your first class
  2. Planning for learning
  3. Teaching today’s diverse learners
  4. Technology enhanced learning (TEL) and online learning
  5. Feedback for learning
  6. Learning Theories
  7. Sessional staff and their professional development
  8. Reflection for learning
  9. The Psychology of learners and learning
  10. Universal design for learning
  11. Collaborative learning

Banner image: Photo  by RODNAE Productions  on Pexels

Posted by Agnes Bosanquet

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