Care to Share? A study of the extent to which an expectation sharing and setting induction exercise is an effective pedagogical tool for first year law students
Keywords:student induction, student transition, student progression, student integration, student voice, expectation setting, first year experience, student well-being, student/lecturer relations, student as partner
Student engagement in higher education is of crucial interest to many stakeholders. The government is driven by the potential economic and societal improvements through an educated people (National Straegy for Higher Education to 2030, 2011). Policy makers are concerned about issues of fair and equitable access and support resources (HEA, 2015). Providers are keen to demonstrate commitment to learners, in addition to the economic imperatives driving them. Finally, and of most importance in relation to this paper, engagement in terms of learner retention and progression is important for the student at a personal level. Research shows that the first year is the most decisive in securing a favourable outcome for the learner (Blaney and Mulkeen, 2008; Diggins et al, 2010; Tinto 2007). If educators and providers can support learners during their first year, propensity for completion and progression is higher (Palmer et al, 2009). Key to a successful first year is student integration with fellow students and staff; and alignment of expectations with the educational programme (Bozick, 2007; Moore-Cherry et al, 2015). Learner induction is often viewed as requiring complex and sophisticated solutions. Whereas the reality, as born out in the proliferation of research in the area, is that induction techniques to assist with transition into higher education are frequently quite simple and related to a basic sense of the learner feeling that they matter and are cared for (Bermingham et al, 2015). Further, engagement with students as partners has been shown to be effective (Healey, Flint & Harrington, 2014). The aim of this paper is to present a pedagogical strategy used to help integrate and transition first year law students into their programme. This approach offers the students a voice and partnership role whilst also facilitating the lecturer to manage expectations and induct students into the programme. The student population is undergraduate first year law students. The research methodology is mixed using both qualitative and quantitative data.
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