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LTA Workshop: Transitions into Higher Education

Attended the Learning and Teaching Academy’s workshop which was given by an external speaker, Dr Debbie Porteous from Northumbria University. The talk was around her research in how to support nursing students in their transitions first to students and then into professional practice, and how to maximise their potential for success.

She began by leading a discussion on how the student experience differs for new students in the 21st century – that study is often now only one of many commitments which can also include work and caring responsibilities, and that the relationship between students and institutions has changed as a result of funding changes which have resulted in students becoming customers, consumers and partners also.

From that position she moved on to how best to support students and ensure their success at University, which includes quality of teaching, clear career pathways, student support services, and, most importantly, the availability of staff at the key level 4 stage. This led to a discussion about how, in reality, that is often the point at which the core programme team are least directly involved with their students in favour of TAs and contract staff.

Debbie then talked about her research findings in which she has identified five themes in the journey of students’ first year of experience: uncertainty, the challenges of transition and developing coping strategies; expectations, how they match experience and, for us as educators, the need to set clear and realistic expectations of what support we can provide; learning to survive, in which resilience emerges and where peer support can be invaluable; seeking support, from academics, mentors and peers, as well as the student support services offered by the institution; and moving forward, at which point students have improved confidence, belief and efficacy. This was followed by an exercise in which we, in groups, tried to identify how students can be supported through each stage.

Finally, Debbie shared how at Northumbria they are using technology and learning analytics to engage with all students throughout their studies. This is going beyond targeting students who may be at risk to include positive message of support and encourage to students who seem to be doing well also.

One Comment

  1. Lee O'Donnell
    Lee O'Donnell 9th June 2019

    Having worked with and supported cohorts of nursing students as they work through their degree studies, I have seen first-hand some of the issues that they encounter. Given the large competency-based element of nursing degrees, I think that there are particularly interesting challenges for learning technologists when it comes to supporting these students. It is an area where the properly applied and supported use of TEL can significantly enhance the student experience and enable them to evidence their professional development in a more effective way.

    Generally, I have found that nursing students seem to do particularly well in terms of peer/social learning. The supportive peer environment, which I would imagine is essential in a busy hospital, appears to establish itself among cohorts of nursing students very early on in their academic journey and it is encouraging to see them help each other to solve problems.

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