The transition from school to college is one of the most challenging events in a learner’s life and getting this right can often make the difference between successful completion of their course and early withdrawal from studies.
The advantages of a positive student induction should not be underestimated. If we can scaffold and facilitate the transition from school to college approaches to learning at the very start, then not only will the first year experience be positive but learning and teaching outcomes will improve.
Research suggests that that when students are engaged in their courses and have been supported in creating networks and friendships with their peers, the more likely it is that the retention rates will improve (Crosling, 2008). Learners need to feel loved from the outset, that sense of belonging. It is important that learners are made aware of the rules and regulations; however we must not forget that humanistic approach during induction. For a person to grow they need an environment that provides them with genuineness, acceptance, positive regard and empathy (Rogers, 1983).
Students need time to learn how to learn, we must enable them to slowly adjust to college life and we must explicitly teach the skills and aptitudes required of them, not assume that these grow naturally (Bromley, 2016). Induction should be recognised as those first 6 weeks and beyond, not making snap judgements after a week of induction. Could we even consider losing the term induction week and replacing this with ‘Welcome Week?’ What can we do as pre-arrival induction activities to limit the duplication of information that often happens during induction?
I have recently set up a Padlet Ideas Wall (https://padlet.com/gknox2/gth92wcjykvf) on what staff at the Lincoln College Group want to see during induction. Some key themes have emerged:
- Students need to move from being passive ‘recipients’ during induction to being partners in planning and organising the process
- Information provided on a need to know basis rather than all in one go, learners given time to socialise without the tutor in the room, learners grouped into new dynamics regularly throughout the week
- A session / good quality information to get students set up and using the College IT systems. This will include connecting to any College information / social media platforms / groups; and give students a purpose to engage in these by posting key information, news, fun items and importantly interactive activities to help build a community
One Size Does Not Fit All…
It would be futile to suggest that all courses must run the exact same induction programme. However, we must consider alternative and innovative approaches to learning, teachings and assessment during induction. Again the Padlet has suggested some great ideas:
- Big QR Codes at entrances to buildings with links to the information as to what goes on each building
- Social elements – Campus activities in induction week that all students can attend. For example a sport event in Deans, competition in the Common Room, opening up all departments for tours, performance in Knights
- A project for learners to go straight in at the deep end. Nothing too scary though. Include elements that require induction for practical workshops, group work and team building, library, opportunities for baseline assessment of skills, introduction to the standard and the style of working needed to be successful
Much work will be taking place over the next few months to equip teachers with some fresh ideas and resources for induction. As we approach the final few weeks of the academic year, take some time to reflect on your induction with your students and critically reflect your course induction programme. There is no knowledge of the world that is not knowledge of our own experience of it and in relationship to it (Gouldner, 1970). Taking that time to reflect and evolve can improve the future of your learners.