There is no doubt that the role of academic and professional staff in universities (higher education workers) is changing and staff are becoming busier (Ferman, 2002; Hemer, 2014; Kenny & Fluck, 2014). Student numbers, including those from a diverse range of backgrounds, are continuing to grow (Pitman & Vidovich, 2010) alongside requirements to improve their learning experiences (Australian Government, 2009). Therefore accessing and utlising quality resources that guide the development of curriculum and pedagogy that helps meet the needs of today’s students while easing the burden on staff are increasingly important. Examples of the kinds of resources that may be used by staff include Kift’s (2009) transition pedagogy principles, Devlin et al’s (2012) recommendations for working with low socioeconomic students, and King et al’s (2015) recommendations for supporting first in family (FiF) students. The Implementing First Year Ideas and Resources in Practice SIG provides a forum where academic and professional staff can explore some of the many and varied resources that are available and discuss how they are used by practitioners across the First Year in Higher Education Community.
Since it began in 2014 participants in the SiG have explored a range of resources and ideas that can help them work with their students. Past SIG participants have looked at materials produced as part of the following OLT projects: “Effective teaching and support of students from low socio-economic status backgrounds: Resources for the Australian higher education sector” (Devlin, et al., 2012); the Factsheets produced through the “First Year Student Expectations and Experiences” project (Brinkworth, et al., 2012) and the NCSEHE funded, Exploring the Experience of Being First in Family at University, Key findings brochures (King, et al., 2015). A number of practical strategies such as getting to know each other ice-breaker activities and techniques for dividing students into mixed ability groups have also been demonstrated within the SIG.
Building on feedback from the last two years the 2016 SIG attendees will again explore ideas and resources they may consider implementing in their own work places. Time will be set aside to ensure participants have an opportunity to discuss their own concerns, solutions and resources but given the increasing prominence of discussions regarding “data”, this year the SIG will consider the following questions:
- How can you use the data your institution collects in relation to the student demographics to you to help you in your role?
- How can you consider using Learning Analytics to better support your students?
- Why are these questions relevant to teaching first year cohorts?
In summary, the intention of this SIG is to is identify ways to support busy staff who are striving to help Students as they Transition into university and through their first year so these students acquire the skills and abilities to Achieve their desired goals, be Retained and Succeed through to graduation. In achieving this outcome it also provides a venue for a broad discussion about supporting our diverse first year cohorts as well as promoting the many resources that are available to assist us to enhance the university experiences for all our students.
Dr Ann Luzeckyj is Senior Lecturer in Higher Education: First Year Undergraduate Teaching Advisor in the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching at Flinders University. Ann works with staff to investigate and trial approaches in curriculum development, teaching and assessment with a focus on those which support the diverse needs of students new to university. As part of her role, Ann undertakes research; co-facilitates a Community of Practice; administers a small grant scheme and develops and delivers workshops (and other resources) in relation to first year undergraduate teaching and learning. Ann has been both a lead and co-investigator on a number of research projects related to teaching and learning. These include: the Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) funded “First Year Student Expectations and Experiences” project (2009 – 2012); an OLT funded Extension Grant related to the aforementioned project (2013 -2014)); a National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) funded grant titled, “Exploring the Experience of Being First in Family at University” (2014 – 2015); and an OLT funded grant titled “Helping First-Year Students Flourish Through Languages: Integrating Positive Psychology, Transition Pedagogy and Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) Principles” (2016).
Australian Government. (2009). Transforming Australia’s Higher Education System. Canberra: Australian Government Retrieved from http://www.innovation.gov.au/HigherEducation/Documents/TransformingAusHigherED.pdf.
Brinkworth, R., McCann, B., Palmer, E., Luzeckyj, A., Burke Da Silva, K. L., & King, S. (2009 – 2012). First Year Student Expectations and Experiences project from http://www.adelaide.edu.au/teaching-projects/expectations/
Devlin, M., Kift, S., Nelson, K., Smith, L., & McKay, J. (2012). Effective teaching and support of students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds: Resources for Australian higher education. Final report. Melbourne: Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching.
Ferman, T. (2002). Academic professional development practice: What lecturers find valuable. International Journal for Academic Development, 7(2), 146-158. doi: 10.1080/1360144032000071305
Hemer, S. R. (2014). Finding time for quality teaching: an ethnographic study of academic workloads in the social sciences and their impact on teaching practices. Higher Education Research & Development, 33(3), 483-495. doi: 10.1080/07294360.2013.841647
Kenny, J. D. J., & Fluck, A. E. (2014). The effectiveness of academic workload models in an institution: a staff perspective. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 36(6), 585-602. doi: 10.1080/1360080X.2014.957889
Kift, S. (2009). Articulating a transition pedagogy to scaffold and to enhance the first year student learning experience in Australian higher education. Final Report for ALTC Senior Fellowship Program. OLT website.
King, S., Luzeckyj, A., McCann, B., & Graham, C. (2015). Exploring the Experience of Being First in Family at University: A 2014 Student Equity in Higher Education Research Grants Project. National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education, Perth: Curtin University.
Pitman, T., & Vidovich, L. (2010). Recognising lifelong and life-wide learning to achieve Bradley’s participation and equity targets for Australian higher education. Paper presented at the 2010 AARE International Conference, Melbourne, Australia. http://www.ncsehe.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/2248PitmanVidovich.pdf