Welcoming students to a programme/module of study through a stepped induction

Author: Lorraine Syme-Smith, School of Education and Social Work

Goal:

When learners come to a new module or programme it is important that they feel welcomed and that they are introduced to what is required of them as they complete this unit of study.

Overview:

This recipe presents ideas on how you can welcome students to your module/programme and introduce them to the module/programme requirements.  The student is introduced to the module/programme through a series of steps which build on their understanding and knowledge.  This recipe is not prescriptive as there will be variation from programme to programme and from module to module, but does present ideas on how the welcome and induction can be completed through linked steps.

Preparation:

Consider what the important things that your student needs to become familiar with.  Is it referencing?  Is it reflective practice?  Is it participating in an online forum?  Is it critically engaging with literature?

Consider how these things might interface with each other.  For instance if you are expecting students to engage with literature, a step on literature might be combined with the requirement to carry out referencing.

Through considering the things that students need to know and how these interface with each other you are building the steps for your induction. You will want about four or five steps which are sufficient to introduce your students to the necessary skills, but not too many to make the induction too onerous.

Consider if these steps are a pre-requisite for undertaking another part of the programme.  You may wish to withhold access to this part until the induction steps are complete.

Delivery:

Having decided the steps that your students need to be introduced to consider the ways in which these can be completed.  For instance if you want your students to become reflective practitioners you can get them to read something on models of reflection and then write about an example of their own practice.  Where they write this relates to what you want them to do later in their studies, do you want them to become accustomed to writing in blogs or to use Conversations on the VLE?  Recognising the needs of your students and the requirements of your programme of study will help you build your steps.

To illustrate the stepped induction process I will use the example of a teacher education programme for college lecturers (TQFE – Teaching Qualification for Further Education) which is presented on the VLE.  This induction uses a Learning Spaces blog to encourage a community of practice amongst the students.  The blog is private to students and staff working on the programme which encourages posting and allows students to learn from each other.  Each post that the student makes on the blog is responded to by at least one member of staff and often by other members of the community too.

Steps:

  1. Welcome:  The aim of this step is to welcome the student and demonstrate use of My Dundee and the TQFE blog.  The content is a welcome video from the Programme Director.
  2. Introduce Yourself: The aim of this step in to introduce reflective practice and get the students involved in a community of practice.  The students are asked to carry out a task, reflect upon this task and then write this on to the programme blog. 
  3. Writing for TQFE: The aim of this step is to refresh and develop critical thinking and academic writing skills.  Postgraduate students are asked to find and read two journal articles of interest to them and critically evaluate and compare these items.  The written critique should be referenced in the Harvard referencing style used on the programme and posted to Step 3 on the private part of the blog.
  4. TQFE and You: The aim of this step is to continue to develop reflective writing and referencing skills and to encourage the community of practice.  Students are asked to read about reflective practice and then reflect upon an example of their own practice with reference to one of the models of reflection that they have been introduced to.  They need to reference this model.  As with previous steps the written piece is post to the private part of the blog.  To help build the community of practice students are asked to engage with and respond to posts from two of their colleagues on the programme.
  5. Professional Values.  The aim of this step is to introduce the students to the rofessional standards which underpin their qualification.  They are asked to look at the professional values part of these standards and relate why one of the standards particularly resonates with them posting their response on the blog.

It is only when the student has completed the five steps that they are given access to the assessment part of the programme.

Follow-up:

If you have decided that the induction is a pre-requisite to completing another part of the programme and are withholding access decide on how you are going to monitor completion and ensuring that access is given.

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