Fitzgerald, R. and Crehan, M. (2011) What works? Student retention and successful first year experience design - lessons from the students. Workshop presented to: 13th Conference of the Confederation of Student Services in Ireland (CSSI), National College of Ireland, Dublin, 15-16 June 2011.
The first year of tertiary level study provides an influential script for the development of an engaged learner. Transition issues at point of entry and the impact of course selection affects individual expectations and levels of commitment. The first few weeks also have much impact on the ability to acclimatise to tertiary level study and to achieve comfortable person-environment fit. The first year requires students to engage with and take responsibility for their learning quickly. Integrated and holistic curriculum planning is a key factor in the successful management of student transition. This workshop aims to facilitate participants’ consideration of the key elements involved in design of the First Year Experience. As “good teaching means seeing learning through the learners eyes”. The “student voice” can bring valid and valuable perspectives to learning and teaching practice. Using first hand video accounts from students, this workshop will guide participants’ through a consideration of the first year from the perspective of lecturer, institution and student. Data from the presenters’ research on, and teaching of first year students, will also be discussed. Working in small groups, participants will debate issues of design in terms of the need to adopt student-centred active learning strategies; formative assessment and feedback; peer mentoring and learning support. Participant activities Participants will view the first hand video accounts from students. Case study prompts (such as the one attached), and question cues such as the questions below will be used to structure discussions Assessment question cues: - Prompts to include e.g. What can assessment do to enhance motivation and retention? Can frequent, early, positive feedback support students’ beliefs that they can do well and also meet academic standards? How to ensure opportunities for students’ success by assigning tasks that are neither too easy nor too difficult?