The process of adapting an online induction course to support distinct student cohorts




transition, induction, digital literacy, digital skills


Successful student transition into higher education is fundamental for student retention and future success. We have previously adapted a freely available online induction course to meet the needs of incoming Medicine (MBChB) students. This case study outlines the process of further developing this course in response to student feedback and adapting a new version to support a distinct cohort of students studying Life Sciences (BSc) degrees.

Both courses were united in the aim to equip incoming students with an awareness of digital skills and key contacts for support and further training. However, each course was tailored to the specific requirements of the students it was designed to support. We evaluated student engagement with each course using course completion data and analytics. We observed that Medicine students were highly engaged with the course initially, with most students (92%) completing the course. Conversely, Life Sciences students engaged poorly with the course initially (17% completion) but returned to it throughout the academic year to access materials relevant to academic skills development, in part due to prompting from academic staff.

We recommend that adopters of this course, or those like it, ensure that courses are designed to meet the specific needs of students. Good time management is essential in ensuring that course implementation deadlines are met and that student input is incorporated into course design. We suggest that course coordinators consider how they might promote engagement with induction materials, both initially and throughout the academic year.

Author Biographies

Kirsty McIntyre, University of Glasgow

Kirsty McIntyre is a Lecturer in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing at the University of Glasgow. She has a Postgraduate Diploma in Academic Practice and PhD in placental physiology.

Jennifer O'Neill, University of Glasgow

Jennifer O’Neill is a Lecturer in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing at the University of Glasgow. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has a PhD in Medical Law and Ethics.


Bernacki, M. L. Vosicka, L.,Utz, J. C. and Warren, C.B. (2019) ‘Effects of Digital Learning Skill Training on Academic Performance of Undergraduates in Science and Mathematics’, Journal of Educational Psychology, 113(6), pp. 1107-1125.

Bernacki, M. L. Vosicka, L. and Utz, J. C. (2020) ‘Can a brief, digital skill training intervention help undergraduates “learn to learn” and improve their STEM achievement?’ Journal of Educational Psychology, 112(4), pp. 765–781.

Bloomsbury Learning Exchange (no date) Digital Skills Awareness Courses – Bloomsbury Learning Exchange. Available at (Accessed: 11 June 2020).

Cho, K. K., Marjadi, B., Langendyk, V. and Hu, W. (2017), ‘The self-regulated learning of medical students in the clinical environment - a scoping review’, BMC Medical Education, 17(112),

Devis-Rozental, C. and Clarke, S. (2021) ‘HE staff’s attitudes and expectations about their role in induction activities’, Journal of Learning and Development in Higher Education, 21,

Dimitrova, V. and Mitrovic, A. (2021) ‘Choice Architecture for Nudges to Support Constructive Learning in Active Video Watching’, International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education

Gale, T. and Parker, S. (2014) ‘Navigating change: a typology of student transition in higher education’, Studies in Higher Education, 39(5), pp. 734-753.

Hussey, T. and Smith, P. (2010) ‘Transitions in higher education’, Innovations in Education and Teaching International. 47(2), pp. 155-164.

Isaacson, R. and Fujita, F. (2006) ‘Metacognitive knowledge monitoring and self-regulated learning’, Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 6(1), 39–55.

McIntyre K. (2021) ‘Bridging the gap: implementation of an online induction course to support students’ transition into first year medicine [version 2]’, MedEdPublish, 9(193),

National Audit Office. (2007) Staying the course: the retention of students in higher education. London: The Stationery Office. Available at (Accessed: 28 August 2022)

O’Donnell, V.L., Kean, M. and Stevens, G. (2016) Student Transition in Higher Education. Concepts, Theories and Practices. Higher Education Academy (HEA). Available at (Accessed: 16 August 2022)

Ortiz Rojas, M. E., Chiluiza, K. and Valcke, M. (2016) ‘Gamification in higher education and stem: a systematic review of literature’, EDULEARN: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies, Valencia. pp. 6548–6558. Available at (Accessed: 7 September 2021)

Osborne, M. and Gallacher, J (2007) ‘An international perspective on researching widening access’, pp 3–16, in Obsborne, J., Gallacher, J, Crossan, B.(eds.) Researching widening access to lifelong learning: issues and approaches in international research. London: Routledge.

Piotrkowicz A., Dimitrova, V., Hallam, J. and Price, R (2020) ’Towards Personalisation for Learner Motivation in Healthcare: A Study on Using Learner Characteristics to Personalise Nudges in an e-Learning Context’, Adjunct Publication of the 28th ACM Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization, pp. 287–292.

Poobalan, A., Barrow, J. and Cleland, J. (2021) '"I had no idea the university offered"…: The support needs of postgraduate taught students ', MedEdPublish. 10(121)

Yorke, M. (2000) ‘Smoothing the transition into higher education: what can be learned from student non-completion?’, Journal of Institutional Research. 9(1) pp. 35-47. Available at,%20No.%201%20May%202000/Yorke.pdf (Accessed: 28 July 2021)




How to Cite

McIntyre, K. and O’Neill, J. (2022) “The process of adapting an online induction course to support distinct student cohorts ”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (24). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi24.829.



Case Studies