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Easing the Transition of First Year Undergraduates through an Immersive Induction Module

September 20, 2018 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Debbie Cotton


An increasingly competitive market in higher education (HE) has encouraged many institutions to engage in curriculum transformation efforts aimed at enhancing student learning, retention and attainment. The start of the first year is recognised as being a challenging time for undergraduates as they negotiate the norms and practices of new academic communities and foster relationships with peers and academics. In this talk, we discuss a comprehensive evaluation of one aspect of a large-scale curriculum development project at the University of Plymouth, the introduction of a four-week immersive induction module. This module (included in almost all programmes across the university) aimed to provide students with discipline-relevant academic skills and networks to support them through the transition period and beyond. The evaluation explored academic and student experiences of this module, as well as impacts on academic self-efficacy, social integration, retention, and attainment of different student groups. Positive outcomes were identified in terms of student attainment (including a narrowing of the gender attainment gap), student retention, and students’ perceptions of preparation and integration. Challenges of this approach included variable approaches to implementation, and the need to manage student expectations for subsequent modules. In some ways, the immersive induction module was a victim of its own success, thus student expectations for subsequent modules proved difficult to fulfil.


Dr Rebecca Turner is an Educational Developer with the Pedagogic Research Institute and Observatory at the University of Plymouth. Rebecca works to support new and experienced academics, researchers and professional staff to develop their pedagogic practice to enhance the student experience. Rebecca is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academic and an active member of the Staff and Education Development Association, where she is currently serving as a member of their Executive Committee. She has diverse research interests; her main work centres on the theme of transitions, however, she has being involved with a HEFCE Learning Gain Pilot project and has also undertaken work on behalf of the Higher Education Academy to examine the impact of educational development activities. She is currently collaborating with The Student Exchange Partnership to undertake research relating to Student Unions and their work to support teaching and learning. A full list of Rebecca’s research can be found at: https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/staff/rebecca-turner

Professor Debby Cotton is Head of Educational Development in the Pedagogic Research Institute and Observatory (PedRIO), Plymouth University, UK. She is a Principal Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy (PFHEA), and a National Teaching Fellow (NTF), and was selected to work as an assessor on the UK Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). Debby has a doctorate from Oxford University, which focused on teaching controversial environmental issues. She has played a key role in the development of pedagogic research at Plymouth University for over 15 years, and was central to the development of PedRIO, one of the University’s eight research institutes. Debby is a popular invited speaker and has delivered workshops and keynotes on higher education in Europe, China, the US and South Africa. She sits on the editorial board of three journals, has contributed to upwards of 25 projects on pedagogic research and development, and produced more than 70 publications on a wide range of HE teaching and learning issues including sustainability education, student transition, retention and attainment, and internationalisation of higher education. She has recently been called upon to advise on higher education in China, and is engaged in collaborative research with academic colleagues at Zhejiang University and Fudan University.You can find out more about Debby’s work and publications here: https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/staff/debby-cotton


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