“It’s just a Derry/ Londonderry Month”......critical reflections of the Social Work Transition Project. CHEP Conference 27th January 2013.Mary Mc Colgan and Susannah Mc Call.
Content of presentation An outline of the conceptual framework underpinning student engagement, drawing on the key lessons from international literature. A critical review of the transition project including its implementation, and identification of good practice initiatives An exploration of the student perspectives, identifying their concerns about the transition and noting the “good, the bad and the ugly” about the process from their point of view. Identification of the learning from this experience and lessons for implementation for future groups of students.
Contextual Considerations Degree in Social Work introduced in 2004 established Collaborative Partnerships with four Further Education Institutes Aim to offer geographic accessibility to professional Social Work Education Revalidation in 2009 led to review of Collaborative Partnerships : reduction to two partners
Contextual Considerations Final year of Degree only offered at Magee Resulted in transfer of 63 students from Belfast Metropolitan College and South West Regional College Final year student cohort combining fast track route and three year route with total of 163 students Additional responsibility for “off streamers”.
Critical review of Transition Project Implementation phase Practical considerations –addressing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs e.g accommodation, timetabling, transport, integration with existing cohort of students, Challenges : large class sizes, staffing resources, geographic infrastructure (no trains from Belfast)
Student Perspectives Concerns about travelling to Magee on a daily basis. Concerns about achieving standards of academic competence “feeding forward” from assessment to learning. Concerns about accommodation and orientation to final year.
Student Perspectives Concerned about moving from small group to large group Concerned about being lost in big group and losing peer support Concerned about allocation of placements.
How did we prepare Established Transition Group with senior staff, course directors, students union, student services, Faculty administration, Subject Partnership Manager. Initial meetings did not involve students. Students were negative about first orientation visit Successful engagement with student representatives to plan second visit and address concerns
Orientation preparationAs part of orientation, in situ visit byStudent Support to explain studentsupport process at Ulster.Visit by Subject PartnershipManager to explain placementallocation process.Allocated students in their existingtutorial groups to experiencedtutors to sustain group cohesion.Delivery of specialist lecture bysubject expert to illustrate teachingstandards. (double edged sword).
What did we do on the visits Two visits to Magee.....one for orientation, introduction to other students Organised around group activities :ice breakers, campus orientation. Critical feedback highlighted difference in expectations, focus needed to include academic input Second visit organised around specialist lecture on current topic related to child protection
Strategic FactorsCollaborative arrangements inplace for delivery of Degree acrosstwo sites.Allocation of resources predicatedon existing provision.Accountability to Regulatory Body(Northern Ireland Social CareCouncil)Regional Process for Allocation ofPractice Learning involvedcompletion of Practice LearningProfiles prior to students transfer.
Lessons for the future. Ongoing review and evaluation of the Transitions Project. Introduce “buddy” opportunities. Establish earlier process for identification of student support needs and assessment of educational support required. Context determines capacity in spite of planning processes, factor in the “unexpected”.
And in the final analysis?Area ReviewStudent engagement in individual The jury’s still out as the progressstudent learning board has not been held. Initial results suggest comparable outcomes with established student cohort.Student engagement with structure Transition project has establishedand process role for student reps during the planning and implementation phase. Student reps also engaged in course committeesStudent engagement with identity Achieved to some extent.
References:Trowler,V. 2010 Student Engagement Literature Review.York. The Higher Education AcademyTrowler, V and Trowler, P. 2010 Student EngagementEvidence Summary. Lancaster. The Higher Education Academy