Executive Summary - Developing and using integrated induction materials for students studying on a blended learning programme
This report is the culmination of more that three years work exploring several aspects of the first year experience of students studying on the BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy programme in the Faculty of Health Psychology and Social Care at Manchester Metropolitan University. This includes, in part, our work leading up to and underpinning our successful mini-project funding application.
During 2006 we explored the barriers and facilitators to level 1 student engagement with eLearning (Hamshire and Cullen, 2008). This work made links between levels of student autonomy, motivation and IT skills and engagement with eLearning. We were able to make use of the findings from this work when planning and designing a new induction programme for the BSc (hons) in Physiotherapy.
This new induction programme became the focus for our mini-project application. The mini-project explores, in detail, our students’ transition into Higher Education (HE) and the impact that the design and implementation of our induction programme made on their experience. Our analysis leads us to make the following recommendations for induction practice on programmes similar to ours.
1. Induction should be thought of as an ongoing process not as a single or series of events. This process should begin at the point that the students’ first contact the institution, department or programme team and continue up until the end of the first year of study.
2. Induction should seek to establish friendly, effective working relationships between the students and key staff (academic and admin) on the programme team before the students arrive at the university.
3. Induction should facilitate students in establishing relationships (making friends) with their peers before they arrive at the university. This should be encouraged both:
- formally (possibly through structured discussion forums in institutional Managed Learning Environments (MLEs) and;
- informally (through social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo).
4. Opportunities for making friends and forming peer-support networks should be encouraged early and built into an induction programme. Face to face tutorial sessions that utilised small group work and an informal social event with staff and students provided an environment that encouraged this in this project.
5. Student usage patterns of online induction resources should be monitored so students who are non-users or very low users can be contacted at an early stage and offered support and advice.
6. Curriculum development of induction resources should be done in partnership with students so that the provision will meet the needs of a diverse student population more appropriately.