Student engagement can have a positive impact on enhancing the student experience and has a critical role to play in improving student retention and achievement. Teesside University is committed to student engagement, retention and success evidenced through its Vision, Mission and Values and explicit within many themes of its Academic Enhancement Framework (AEF).
The What Works? Model of Student Success and Retention (Thomas, 2012) usefully captures a holistic approach to Student Engagement and supports the early engagement of students through pre-entry and induction activities focussing around building relationships and engaging students with key information.
In the School of Health and Life Sciences a number of course teams have been considering what they may include in their Course Induction Schedule and in particular how they can build cohort identity. The following provides a summary of some of the activities they intend to use and hope that they may also be of use to other colleagues when they develop their own Course Induction Schedules. These activities have been considered in the context of Teesside University’s hybrid model and as such it is anticipated that they could easily be delivered online though some development work may be required to ensure they are tailored for online delivery. If colleagues would like to find out more about the activities detailed below, please contact the academic lead that has been identified with each activity.
Ben Findlay – Course Leader BSc Computer and Digital Forensics (B.Findlay@tees.ac.uk)
An idea would be to develop a digital footprint-based manhunt/treasure hunt. The idea would be to simulate some social media activity for a Boro-based organised crime gang, students have to track down the suspects using online clues.
This activity could run week-long and be drip-fed to students to keep them engaged each day, they are meeting in teams each day to interact and bond with each other.
These Course Teams were looking for a fun and interactive activity and have been looking at putting the students into groups via Teams to undertake the “Lost at Sea” or “Moon Landing” Activities (full details on these activities are within the Schools AEF Hybrid Teams site). These also have a slight competitive edge without needing great IT skills.
Helen Carney, Course Leader for BSc Biological Sciences and BSc Animal Sciences (H.Carney@tees.ac.uk)
Online Pictionary: Set up a Teams meeting with a whiteboard for a group of students. One person in the group starts by drawing something themed to the course and the others try to guess. Keep going so that everyone has a go and it allows the students to interact with each other.
Campus Biobliltz (counting biodiversity): For the last two years iPads have been used for the students to carry out a campus biodiversity survey as part of their induction. The idea is to take this into their own environments and collect data on their street, garden or a local park. The data can then be shared across the cohort to provide an insight into the biodiversity in the NorthEast.
Online Quiz: Biosciences have been running an online quiz each year where students compete against each other in teams, this could be taken online to allow students to interact and compete with one another.
Helen Tidy, PL Learning and Teaching (H.Tidy@tees.ac.uk)
Set up a Padlet and ask students to post a picture with their name underneath around a theme daily for the induction week. The course leader can set a daily theme and it will enable students to discover people with similar likes and interests on their course. For example, you could ask the forensic science students to post a picture of their favourite detective so the posts are course related or you could be more generic by asking students to post their favourite animal or album cover. On the last day you could ask them to post a selfie, they are then starting to associate a face with the name.
Helen Carney, Callum Anderson and Helen Tidy (H.Tidy@tees.ac.uk)
We are developing a Minecraft based induction activity where students work in teams to successfully (or not) navigate a giant lava pit that has appeared on campus. This activity has the benefit of not only allowing students to get to know each other in groups and refine group working skills but also to become familiar with the buildings and layout on campus.
Colleagues may also find useful a recent post in July which focussed around ‘Planning Induction for the New Semester’ which can be found at this link: https://blogs.tees.ac.uk/lteonline/2020/07/30/planning-induction-for-the-new-semester/
Thomas, L. (July 2012) Building student engagement and belonging in higher education at a time of change: final report from the What works? Student retention & success programme. London: Paul Hamlyn Foundation.