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THEME: First-year Pedagogy

Newsletter May 2021 - First-year Pedagogy

In four months, new first-year students start at university. Ahead of them are five years of studies that will shape them academically and personally. In this month's newsletter, you can read about how you as a teacher can support the students in their growth during their first year and how you can help them remain engaged through first-year pedagogy.

The transition from high school and maybe a sabbatical year to university studies is challenging for most students. They are becoming a part of new communities in which they are both decoding being a student and being a student in their chosen field of studies. It is a steep learning curve, and in recent year research in higher education has also focused on the significance of students’ first year experience.

Three key elements of student retention

The starting point for some of the first research the first-year experience was retention. Vincent Tinto researched what made students continue their studies and he identified three key elements:

  • Sense of belonging
  • Self-efficacy
  • Perception of the curriculum

The first element concerns the importance of a sense of belonging – to feel a part of the community. This involves the students experiencing support when they feel challenged and that the support mobilises persistence. Tinto argues that being a part of the community supports learning. The culture of the studies should be including through academic and social activities.

The second element concerns the importance of the student’s faith in her abilities. Tinto emphasizes that the students can learn how to deal with goals, assignments and challenges. It is the students’ belief that they can complete the studies with success that matters. According to Tinto, students’ first meetings with the university have a great impact on how they see themselves as students. This means that the university should make clear that the studies are demanding and challenging but also that they can find the support they need.

The third element concerns students’ understanding of the content and learning objectives. The content should be of high quality and relevance and the students will be considering if they have chosen the right field of studies. Tinto argues that studies are more meaningful when students experience that they can contribute with their own experiences and stories and they can see possibilities for using and testing some of the academic elements they are introduced to.

Inviting cooperation

In the coming years, SDUUP will focus on the development of first-year pedagogy as an independent effort and we invite the different programmes to cooperate with us. We focus on how students can develop good study habits, get integrated in the community, create their identity as students and as future graduates in their field, and on the transition from high school to university. By taking a first-year pedagogy perspective you can:

  • Develop academic communities
  • Support the students’ involvement
  • Support the students’ inculturation in their study life both concerning the content of the subject (discourses, terms, genres) and cultures (practices, methods)

Cooperation with Psychology

SDUUP already cooperates with Psychology where we focus on the use of feedback. The project was started in April this year. Together with the teachers of the programme, we will develop feedback forms that will both strengthen the students’ learning and feedback forms that support graduates to work in the field of psychology.

Want to learn more?

Contact SDUUP 

Editing was completed: 26.05.2021