Pearson How can you support students from induction and beyond?

How can you support students from induction and beyond?

It is generally recognised that induction pre-arrival or pre-teaching is an extremely important step in setting students up for success. However, effective induction carries on into the initial stages of teaching and learning and can vary from student to student. A 2019 study from HEFCE revealed common issues to students during transition were: 

  • a poor sense of belonging 
  • a struggle with the changing nature of academic support following further education 
  • difficulties in adapting to new ways of learning and assessment practices 

It also suggested that students who are academically successful at the end of year one, are more likely to be awarded higher degree classifications (regardless of entry qualification). These issues can partly be offset by an effective and thorough induction. So, what should a successful induction contain and how can it help improve the experience, satisfaction, wellbeing and retention of your students?  

Read on to find out how you can get free access to an online Wellbeing learning unit for educators and students. 

Everyone learns differently 

Whether it’s completely new first years or seasoned third years, all students will need support and guidance at the beginning of the year. Where they are in their learning journey will determine the kind of support they need. For example, first year students may have arrived at university from various educational and work-based settings so will need clear guidance on how to succeed at a university level. Additionally, non-traditional students such as part-time, mature students or those with caring responsibilities may need different support from the traditional school leavers or returning students. For those that require further support with this step, online courses or training such as Pearson’s ‘Transitioning to higher education’ online learning unit will help to supplement priorities established in induction sessions and development of any key skills.  

Transition into these new stages of their learning journey can be encapsulated into inductiondevelopment; and becoming, and should be viewed as a longer-term process of change, covering a broad range of issues around academic skills, mental health and wellbeing, life skills, behaviour and attitude. To understand the position of your students at the beginning of the year, it might be possible to begin the induction with a self-assessment of the student’s abilities and skills. This could be a short questionnaire that uncovers areas that may need development and inform where you might need more focus in the first few teaching sessions.  

Navigating the resources 

For many students, it might be their first time using a VLE, online library search, or any kind of digital learning platform. Teaching staff will have taken the time to create and collate the learning resources necessary for the course, so the induction period is a great opportunity to demonstrate how best to access and use the resources. This will help set students up for success from the very beginning and ensure they can refer to this information during their studies. Moreover, if you’re teaching online or taking a blended approach there may be many new systems and etiquettes that some students aren’t familiar with if they have only experienced in-person classroom teaching. Online learning units or training courses, such as Pearson’s ‘How to learn online’, are a steppingstone for students who have never experienced online teaching and provides them with information and skills to effectively learn online and get the most out of their course from the very beginning.   

They may also encounter problems using the different platforms or technology throughout any point in the year, so including links to the institution’s IT or learning technology teams in your induction resources will mean they have a point of contact when they need more technical support.  

Creating communities 

When you have students based off campus or even in another country it can be a challenge to create a sense of community. When students are regularly present on campus the buildings, services and very environment are set up to support them and bring them together. This helps you from a teaching perspective as well as bringing students together naturally where they can easily engage in teaching and learning activities. Building this same sense of community when you have a mix of on and off campus students requires slightly more proactive support from teaching staff. 

Moreover, a Pearson study conducted in February 2020 with over 1700 HE students found that more than a third did not feel confident in reaching out for support when producing and submitting work, with many citing reasons of anxiety, embarrassment and even a fear of asking for help having a detrimental impact on their grades. If a sense of community can be established from the very beginning, students will feel more comfortable reaching out to course leaders and their peers for help and support, avoiding further issues developing later in the year. 

You can encourage engagement from induction by keeping contact through clear communication channels and sign posting discussion forums where students can discuss the course content at their convenience. Additionally, these are great spaces for students to convene for group work. Your live teaching sessions can also provide an opportunity for them to connect by encouraging student interaction and peer learning.  

What about wellbeing? 

For many students, particularly first years, the transition period can be very overwhelming. They are dealing with new people, content, information, systems, as well as potentially big changes in their personal lives, such as moving away from home or managing work and study. With all these competing priorities the wellbeing of students can be overlooked, making it increasingly difficult to spot when someone is struggling.  

The 2021 HEPI student experience survey revealed nearly a third of students had considered leaving their course, with poor mental and emotional health being the leading factor. While there will be situations where students require support beyond what the institution provides, early intervention of struggling students is key and equipping them with skills to monitor and manage their wellbeing will empower them to reach out for support when needed. Pearson’s online learning unit on wellbeing explores key themes such as resilience, adaptability, stress-management, self-awareness and physical health, grounded in a student’s world to help them manage their mental and physical wellbeing while navigating the complexities of studying in higher education. Pearson are currently offering free access to an online wellbeing unit for students and educators. Find out more about gaining free access to the wellbeing unit. 

If you’re in need of additional support to develop your students' academic and personal skills gaps, Pearson’s Online Learning Units cover topics including transition and learning online to help students feel well prepared for university life.  

Are you looking for ways to assess and identify students’ strengths and weaknesses from the start of their course? Pearson’s Conley Readiness Index is a 30-minute online analysis tool that assesses students’ readiness to succeed at university and identifies gaps between their aspirations and skills. Discover how the CRI assessment can enhance your induction programme.

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