Intro Week Induction and Inquiry-based Learning: Varying Approaches


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The University of Sheffield has considered strategically the induction
process undertaken by departments during Intro Week in order to
facilitate the transition to university for new students. The approaches from three
departments Human Communication Sciences, Automatic Control and Systems
Engineering, Mechanical Engineering will be showcased in the symposium. Two
main aims were:
(i) welcome students into the department and discipline,
(ii) begin the education of students into a new way of learning,
specifically independent learning. Topics included:
How was intro week organised to meet the aims?
Which aspects of good practise might be usefully summarised for other

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Intro Week Induction and Inquiry-based Learning: Varying Approaches

  1. 1. Intro Week Induction and Inquiry-based Learning: Varying Approaches L Gray, A Rossiter, J Rowson, M Freeman, M Morley UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD
  2. 2. Background Influences on initial plans: <ul><li>Frameworks for learning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Entwistle et al. 2002 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>First Year Experience </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lim, 2005; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Yorke & Langden, 2006; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Harvey, 2006 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Enabling students to cope with complexity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gamache, 2002; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Keenan, 2005 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The changing concept of induction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Edward, 2003; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Laing et al, 2005; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wingate, 2007 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Our ‘local’ experience </li></ul><ul><li>Student feedback </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ too much information’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ lost in a crowd’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Need to find my way around’ </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Framework for learning Entwistle et al. (2002)
  4. 4. The First Year Experience Lost, lonely, confused Don’t know what to expect of university life Unsure of standards expected Don’t understand lectures, language, terminology Want to learn and develop new skills but don’t know how… Financial realities: student loans, part time work Transition difficulties From families with no previous HE experience Independence and responsibility can be frightening Expect more support and guidance Information overload,3,Research Findings
  5. 5. ‘ Traditional’ Induction <ul><li>Information delivered ‘intensively’ & out of context </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Information overload </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ boring’ (Edward, 2003) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Induction did not meet student needs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>did not understand course expectations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>felt unprepared for learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>students seek support from each other </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>many did not approach personal tutors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>felt lonely/isolated and considered leaving </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Positive experiences of induction impacted on retention </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Edward (2003); Lim (2005); Yorke & Langdon ( 2006) </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Organisational cogs for first year engagement (Duff, A. et al., 2007*) * Cited by Johnson, H et al. (2007) Cutting the cloth to fit new needs and communication preferences. Journal of Academic Language and Learning,
  7. 7. HCS -CILASS IBL (2006) project planned to: <ul><li>facilitate social interaction and orientation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>supported by current students (’guides’) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>based on treasure hunt theme (Edward, 2003) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ wind round’ course meetings & SU activity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(To emphasise work life balance) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>encourage discussions about learning, from the start & provide experience of IBL </li></ul><ul><li>Include intro to resources (Libraries, IT, WebCT, etc) </li></ul>
  8. 8. What HCS did, 2006 & 2007 <ul><li>ONGOING INDUCTION, 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>Scheduled sessions, Semester 1 and some, in Semester 2 </li></ul><ul><li>ONGOING INDUCTION, 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>Personal tutors…PDP etc </li></ul><ul><li>ORGANISATION 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>Students volunteered </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook and social activities </li></ul><ul><li>Librarians and IT techs bookable </li></ul><ul><li>ORGANISATION 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>Student ‘Guides’ paid by the hour! </li></ul><ul><li>Organised ‘tours’ </li></ul><ul><li>Provided induction to ALL resources </li></ul><ul><li>2007 TASK </li></ul><ul><li>Use PC software to measure voice </li></ul><ul><li>Compare with normative data </li></ul><ul><li>Display as poster, compare with peers </li></ul><ul><li>2006 TASK </li></ul><ul><li>Video clips as trigger, </li></ul><ul><li>Explore aspects of Male/Female communication behaviour </li></ul><ul><li>Feedback: ‘Task= bit naff’/‘too subject specific/ not inclusive’ </li></ul>
  9. 9. HCS Student Feedback <ul><li>There was always the worry of ‘information overload!’ </li></ul><ul><li>However the gentle pace and support of current students meant that we were eased into the course, able to absorb the information, and all this without any stress or worry! </li></ul><ul><li>All of the students agreed that having second year students act as ‘guides’ was a very useful aspect of induction week. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It allowed us to experience campus tours from a fellow student’s perspective…as well as ask any burning questions in an informal and relaxed way. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>However, above all this, it gave us comfort knowing that these were people, like us, who had been through this last year and survived! </li></ul><ul><li>Induction week was an extremely positive and informative experience, one which we all wished we had, when starting our undergrad degrees and an experience that we will be happy to share with the new students in 2008. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  10. 10. ACSE: Positive triggers for change <ul><li>Students : High failure rate in level 1, poor attendance at lectures, labs and tutorials, Students not knowing about/not using resources provided, … </li></ul><ul><li>Shared good practice : Several University department initiatives to improve induction disseminated. </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on IBL : IBL profile in the UoS raised by CILASS, IBL approach implicit in engineering processes, CILASS funding/support. </li></ul>
  11. 11. What ACSE did before and after <ul><li>BEFORE </li></ul><ul><li>HODs welcome </li></ul><ul><li>1 st year tutor talk </li></ul><ul><li>Talk from library </li></ul><ul><li>Talk on H&S,… </li></ul><ul><li>Session on VLE. </li></ul><ul><li>Meet tutor for tea+biscuits </li></ul><ul><li>NO SOCIALISATION </li></ul><ul><li>MOSTLY DIDACTIC </li></ul><ul><li>AFTER </li></ul><ul><li>HODs welcome </li></ul><ul><li>Session on VLE and group formation </li></ul><ul><li>Learning trail in groups </li></ul><ul><li>Design and build </li></ul><ul><li>Learning trail solutions and meet tutors. </li></ul><ul><li>LOTS SOCIALISATION and IBL. </li></ul>Pre-arrival task
  12. 12. Learning Trail: Questions Process <ul><li>People and places in UoS and in ACSE </li></ul><ul><li>Getting involved </li></ul><ul><li>Personal Development </li></ul><ul><li>Things to do with academic work and with rules and regulations </li></ul><ul><li>The Library </li></ul><ul><li>Safety </li></ul><ul><li>Staff/Student Committee </li></ul><ul><li>A group exercise </li></ul><ul><li>Prizes </li></ul><ul><li>Tues lunch to Friday am </li></ul><ul><li>Resources made available: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Staff and students act as guides/experts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pointers given on information location. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Marked pub quiz style </li></ul>
  13. 13. ACSE: Student feedback positive <ul><li>Fun </li></ul><ul><li>Learning Trail helped students find their way around (e.g. IC, MUSE, MOLE) </li></ul><ul><li>Teamwork helped with building relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Robot Project was a good taster for future lab work </li></ul><ul><li>They felt that the intro week activities required independent, unguided effort </li></ul><ul><li>As a result of Intro Week, they felt more confident about finding resources and learning for themselves </li></ul>
  14. 14. MechEng: Review of Intro Week <ul><li>There are too many welcome meetings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>One general welcome to engineering </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning trail - interactive style information getting, could be set up on </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Meet the tutors is important </li></ul><ul><li>Compulsory maths test </li></ul><ul><li>Students do not know what to expect </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Expectations of the course - contact time/self study/play time life balance. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Session on how to take notes, read supporting textbooks and generally approach lectures etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Intro week schedule looks very formal, full and complicated to work out what is compulsory and what isn’t </li></ul>
  15. 15. MechEng: Intro Week <ul><li>2006 </li></ul><ul><li>Pre-entry information pack </li></ul><ul><li>Registration and intropack </li></ul><ul><li>Maths test </li></ul><ul><li>Departmental administration </li></ul><ul><li>HODs welcome </li></ul><ul><li>Meet the tutor </li></ul><ul><li>Introduction to the department: </li></ul><ul><li>Labs, Notetaking, Engineering skills, Safety, Independent study, </li></ul><ul><li>Plagiarism and collusion </li></ul><ul><li>Learning Trail </li></ul><ul><li>All day design problem - design and build task. Within task students meet their tutor </li></ul><ul><li>2007 </li></ul><ul><li>Pre-entry information pack </li></ul><ul><li>Registration and intropack </li></ul><ul><li>Maths test </li></ul><ul><li>Departmental administration </li></ul><ul><li>HODs welcome </li></ul><ul><li>Meet the tutor </li></ul><ul><li>Introduction to the department: </li></ul><ul><li>Labs, Notetaking, Engineering skills, Safety, Independent study, </li></ul><ul><li>Plagiarism and collusion </li></ul><ul><li>Learning Trail </li></ul><ul><li>All day design problem - design and build task. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Design and build Task <ul><li>Details </li></ul><ul><li>All day design problem in tutor groups </li></ul><ul><li>Chance to meet tutor informally </li></ul><ul><li>Start thinking about solving problems </li></ul><ul><li>Drivers </li></ul><ul><li>To set up the rules of the learning style </li></ul><ul><li>Start the process of independent learning </li></ul><ul><li>Fun task that got students talking to each other </li></ul><ul><li>Meet the tutor was too formal </li></ul><ul><li>Start the competition! </li></ul>
  17. 17. MechEng: Reflection and Feedback <ul><li>Keep what worked last year (simplicity, learning trail and design task) </li></ul><ul><li>Maths test completely removed </li></ul><ul><li>Better integration of 2 nd year and MSc students </li></ul><ul><li>Improve induction process (again) </li></ul>‘ The group activity was fantastic, a lot of fun and a great way to get to know people’
  18. 18. References <ul><li>Edward, N (2003) “First impressions last: an innovative approach to induction”, Active Learning in Higher Education , Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 226-41 </li></ul><ul><li>Entwistle, N., McCune, V. & Hounsell, J. (2002) Approaches to Studying and Perceptions of University Teaching-Learning Environments: Concepts, Measures and Preliminary Findings. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Johnson, H et al. (2007) Cutting the cloth to fit new needs and communication preferences. Journal of Academic Language and Learning (available via Google) </li></ul><ul><li>Lim. H (2005) Innovations in the First Year Experience @ SSU </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Yorke, M., Longdon, B (2007) The first-year experience in higher education in the UK. HEA Report </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>