Transforming transitions: learning and researcher developers and a whole-institution approach to successful transition
Keywords:student transition, institutional collaboration, academic literacies
The impact of Covid-19 on incoming students and researchers is plain: students and researchers were denied access to their usual educational experiences, to their usual networking and social interaction, and to their usual assessment types. This resulted in an incoming cohort of students and researchers with higher levels of anxiety and, often, less awareness of the requirements of higher education/research. Recognising the need to engage with new students and researchers in innovative ways, the Student Learning Development (SLD) team and the Researcher Development (RD) team undertook two institution-wide projects to provide students with a ‘world-changing’ start to their studies. In particular, we sought to engage with the competencies of online study and research skills, academic integrity in an online world, academic community building, and student/researcher confidence.
As we move out of the emergency response to the pandemic (Bartolic et al., 2021; Yowler et al., 2021), both teams have adopted these projects as core elements of work and as particular highlights of the value of LD and RD to the institution. The relationship between LD and RD varies greatly within institutions. Some universities do not differentiate between the roles, some work within the same team, and others work entirely separately. While the two teams are situated separately at the University of Glasgow, the teams work closely together to provide an integrated response that provides continuity of experience for our students and our researchers.
For our undergraduates, a new course – T2G: Transition to Glasgow – was created by SLD. Designed around developing competencies, instilling academic identity, and easing the transition to formal education, the course provided students with the skills required to succeed. For our postgraduate researchers, a new course – PGR@Home – was created by RD. Designed around integration and developing competencies, the course offered asynchronous and synchronous opportunities for research students to begin the process of joining the university community in their new role. In each case, students were contacted directly with information and promotion material on the available initiatives and participated on a voluntary basis. They were able to select from a range of topics that interested them, and also completed a core academic literacies module. For students who completed T2G by completing the required coursework, we granted an exemption for a first-year compulsory writing course. As the courses were pilots, PGT students were not included in either piece of work, but reflecting on each project has enabled us to develop plans to expand and tailor our provision to meet the demands of our PGT students.
This joint case study presented and reflected on the ways in which we adopted a whole-institution response to the transition to new stages of learning and research. The case study highlights the ways in which Learning and Researcher Development teams can offer a transformational transition experience for our students and researchers (Cage et al., 2021; Thompson, Pawson and Evans, 2021), and provides evidence of impact through evaluation and analysis.
Bartolic, S. K. et al. (2021) ‘A multi-institutional assessment of changes in higher education teaching and learning in the face of COVID-19’, Educational Review, pp.1-17. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131911.2021.1955830.
Cage, E., Jones, E., Ryan, G., Hughes, G. and Spanner, L. (2021) ‘Student mental health and transitions into, through and out of university: student and staff perspectives’, Journal of Further and Higher Education, 45(8), pp.1076-1089. https://doi.org/10.1080/0309877X.2021.1875203.
Thompson, M., Pawson, C. and Evans, B. (2021) ‘Navigating entry into higher education: the transition to independent learning and living’, Journal of Further and Higher Education, pp.1-13. https://doi.org/10.1080/0309877X.2021.1933400.
Yowler, J. Y. et al. (2021) Rapid adaptation and remote delivery of undergraduate research training during the COVID 19 Pandemic’, Sustainability, 13(11), 6133. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13116133.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2023 Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).