Session 3C | Paper 2 – Transforming academic-based undergraduate induction 2019-2022: enhancing student engagement

Li Cunningham, Professor Clive Holtham & Dr Martin Rich

Typical and conventional welcome week undergraduate induction at City involves a patchwork of activities covering social and administrative threads, with an academic thread having less emphasis.

This paper traces the rationale, evolution and outcome of changes since 2019 in first year induction for a cohort of 500+ undergraduates. This was transformed in 2020 and 2021 with an academically-based Welcome Week, both on-campus and online, building on the concept of “relentless welcome”, advocated by Felten and Lambert, 2020 as part of their case for relationship-rich education. For the new challenges and opportunities faced in 2022 induction, funding was obtained to recruit undergraduate students as active co-designers of Welcome Week 2022, performing Bovill’s (2017) “pedagogical co-designer” role.

The 2020 transformation explicitly drew on Lave and Wenger’s (1991) communities of practice (and its extension to communities of learners). The new academic welcome week involved five high-level “challenges”, issued by email at 0800 each day, with a 1000 video briefing and teams presenting results in plenaries at 1500. One well-addressed challenge was based on inventing a game to help secondary school students understand the UN SDG’s (UNESCO, 2017).

There has been a strong emphasis on inclusiveness within the school since events of 2020, and in 2021 the school funded development of a two hour inclusive-working workshop for all incoming students, which fitted very well within the transformed structure of 2020. There is a continuing interest in extending this aspect further, potentially extending the existing first year emphasis on critical thinking to embrace Friere’s (1974) “critical consciousness”.

Ongoing work scans national and international innovations in undergraduate induction (eg Woods and Homer, 2022). A key aspect of the student co-design in 2022 involves undergraduates evaluating impressive induction innovations within City itself eg Engineering Hackathon, Law International Summer School and Escape Rooms in Social Sciences.

The paper aims to combine both high-level aspirations – like inclusiveness and student involvement – with some of the lower-level practicalities – what activities worked best, what were the barriers to implementation.

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Bovill, C., Cook-Sather, A., Felten, P., Millard, L., & Moore-Cherry, N. (2016). Addressing potential challenges in co-creating learning and teaching: overcoming resistance, navigating institutional norms and ensuring inclusivity in student-staff partnerships. Higher Education, 71(2), 195–208

Felten, Peter and Lambert, Leo (2020) Relationship-Rich Education: How Human Connections Drive Success in College, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore

Freire, Paulo (1974) “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” Basic Books, NY

Lave, J., and E. Wenger (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England

UNESCO (2017) Education for Sustainable Development Goals, UNESCO, Paris

Woods K., Homer D. (2022) The staff–student co-design of an online resource for pre-arrival arts and humanities students. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 21(2):176-197

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