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Induction Programmes

Literature Surveys carried out for the Responding to Student Needs and the First Year Experience Themes (Transition to and during the first year) found that an 'ideal' induction programme would:

  • be strategically located within the higher education institution and managed by an authority that has the power to bring about change and drive policy on matters related to support for first-year students. This notion has been refined by Krause into a framework mapping exercise. Read more about coordinated approach to institutional transition strategies which includes examples from the Universities of Strathclyde, Teesside, Ulster and a private sector initiative called 'Spirit of Creation'
  • address academic, social and cultural adjustments required of students. Read more about supporting transition thorough social media including several examples from HEIs around the world
  • provide time-relevant targeted information.  Read more about longitudal induction and the timely provision of information
  • provide early validating experiences
  • be inclusive of all student groups. Read more about supporting the transition of all students
  • address special needs of particular groups
  • make academic expectations explicit
  • include teaching staff at a personal level
  • develop required computing skills and e-learning skills
  • recognise existing skills/experience
  • recognise different entry points to HE
  • be inclusive of students' families
  • be student-centred rather than university-centred
  • be an integrated whole
  • be part of an ongoing extended programme
  • be evaluated, with findings communicated to relevant stakeholders.

Read more about the project, including a diagram of induction and a case study of Monash University's induction programme.

A slightly different approach to supporting induction is also considered in the booklet Transition to and during the first year.

Best practice suggests that institutions should declare what might be termed a 'support entitlement', which makes clear from the outset the areas and levels of support that the institution will provide for students. To underpin this entitlement, recommendations were made about  implementing PDP as a means of enabling students to gain self-awareness as developing learners and to plan the actions that will enhance personal and career development.

The booklet on transition provides examples of different approaches to PDP in the first year. The challenge is to engage all aspects of the student's programme in the PDP process, however it is clear that there is no single, unambiguous understanding of what PDP activity is.

Discussion of the issue of definitions

A plethora of terms, strategies, processes and products are used to describe these PDP activities, resulting in no uniform understanding of what PDP is beyond the commonly used definition from the Guidelines for HE Progress Files (QAA, 2001), point 28. PDP practice in HE can thus be defined by an institution, college or faculty, department or school, programme or module context. It may also be defined differently in other sectors - school, further education (FE), employment.  As PDP is increasingly delivered electronically, a further factor is people's understanding of the terminology surrounding e-portfolios.

From the different models of PDP in practice, the evidence suggests that 'one size does not fit all', and that such diversity is therefore an essential feature of PDP. However, this lack of uniformity can affect a first-year student's experience by conveying mixed messages about purpose, process and outcomes:

  • between different educational sectors
  • within different academic discipline cultures in their degree (for example in arts, humanities or social science)
  • as students progress within the undergraduate curriculum.

Source:  Personal Development Planning in the first year

An increasing number of institutions recognise that scholarship skills, especially those relating to academic writing, cannot be taken for granted in first-year students, and that the students themselves do not always recognise that the skills they have developed in other educational environments may not be fit for purpose at university. Find out more bout the ways universities establish levels of knowledge and support needs including case study examples.

Three models have been identified as means of fostering academic writing skills, namely: 'study skills approach', 'academic socialisation approach' and 'academic literacies approach'.