The First Year Experience Forum is a program run by UTS First Year Experience (FYE) Coordinator, Kathy Egea. The program aims to ensure principles of Transition Pedagogy are embedded into our curriculum and co-curricular activities at UTS so that students can experience a smooth transition into university. The forums allow academics to share practice – from world leading experts, from within UTS and from other institutions – and ideas that can be implemented across any faculty. The FYE community welcomes anyone interested in improving student outcomes and reflects the diversity of UTS – academics from all faculties (and at all levels) and professional staff from across all of the units and functions.
Our September forum featured ways to support and facilitate students’ learning in large collaborative classes. Often we cannot move away from large classes – but we can innovate to change them from traditional content-delivery focused lectures to more collaborative learning experiences.
Our first session was presented by Dr Jurgen Schulte, showcasing OnTask Learning – a new system rolling out at the end of the year that allows coordinators to schedule emails to students tailored to their specific learning needs. The program draws on data related to learning activity academics can observe or collect within our IT systems. I love the idea of being able to send each student an email based on their needs and the programming of these emails seems relatively straightforward.
Citizenship and Communication
The second session was led by Cale Bain and the tutor team from Citizenship and Communication (or as it is more commonly known “citcomm”) where we worked through a series of improv activities to help students build relationships and feel comfortable to make mistakes in the classroom. I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard in a FYE activity ever! They sounded like easy things to do but were quite difficult. Everyone failed, a LOT, and laughed. I love the idea of giving students permission to make mistakes – this is really important because mistakes create a fantastic opportunity for learning.
Concepts around teamwork
The final session was led by Dr Jacqueline Melvold and a team from the Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation and we engaged in an activity used in their classes to help students engage with concepts around teamwork. We had to build a Lego model where everyone had differing, unknown goals and we had to work in silence. It was a real eye opener, the hardest part for me was working without talking. It wrapped up with a worksheet to help students clearly identify what skills and attitudes they need to work as a team. Jacqueline has enough Lego to run this exercise with up to 120 students – contact her to learn more and borrow the activity.
Check out my 2.5 minute vlog summary of the forum
Want to find out more about the First Year Experience community and forum?
Contact Kathy Egea. Resources from the current and all previous forums (including full videos of all of the sessions) are available on UTSOnline – Kathy can arrange access.