Working with students to shape the transitional experience to university education in a trans disciplinary course.

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ty study. Staff identified issues with year one attrition rates on the course which were directly related to difficulties experienced by students during the transitional period to university study.
CT is a trans-disciplinary course offering a broad range of topics ranging from music technology, visual arts to computer programming. It was found that due to this, all students in semester one, year one, experienced low levels of confidence at some stage during the transitional period. As a response, staff worked together with current and previous year one students to identify specific elements of their transitional experience that could be improved.
Once these elements were identified, staff and students worked in collaboration over a 12 week period to design, implement and evaluate a series of interventions to the existing student program aimed at enhancing the student experience and increasing their sense of belonging during the difficult transitional period of university study within a trans-disciplinary course.
This process helped the team establish four specific aims on which to focus;
1. Build positive staff-student relationships. 2. Help students develop team-working skills. 3. Increase students’ sense of belonging to the course / university and develop and consolidate their interest in the subject area. 4. Improve student experience and increase their confidence and performance across a range of disciplines.
During the next phase of the project the team designed four interventions responding to each specific aim;
1. Overnight field trip 2. Team based hackathon activity 3. Created a shared space for students 4. Manage active learning during transitional period for module CRE104

The overall impact of these interventions was immediately reflected by a drop in the course attrition rates. In 2012/13, 10% of year one CT students dropped out. In 2013/14 after this study 0% of students dropped out from year one. In a wider context there are of course other influencing factors which could be attributed to this statistical improvement such as the induction process, admissions,

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marketing, student profile etc, however, there were no notable differences in these processes from the previous years.
Overall students were positive about the interventions and felt they achieved, to varying degrees, their intended aims. The results from the goal-free questionnaires indicated students benefitted from their partnership with staff throughout the process and expressed appreciation at the level of effort, time and consideration staff contributed to improving their university experience which in itself increased their motivation and sense of belonging.
All students agreed that having a deeper understanding of module rationale and active learning strategy in relation to the management and delivery of content, collaborative work, assessment and feedback contributed to fostering a sense of community within the class.
Learning from this process has resulted in all staff who teach modules within the early transitional period to work with students to manage active learning strategies together with student partners in order to identify areas of good practice.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 15 Jun 2015
EventEuropean First Year Experience Conference - University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
Duration: 15 Jun 201517 Jun 2015


ConferenceEuropean First Year Experience Conference
Abbreviated titleEFYE
Internet address


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