HeadStart A pre‐arrival induction pilot for mature  students in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Why focus on mature students? †

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It is increasingly recognised that learners benefit from  more personalised University induction, as different  groups come with different needs and require different  levels of support (Cook & Lowe, 2000). Mature learners are an extremely diverse group, but likely  to have concerns and commitments not shared by the  traditional student population of 18/19 years of age  (Bennett, Mousley & Ali‐Choudhury, 2008).  Mature learners frequently lack confidence in the ways in  which their experiential skills and previous educational  experiences can feed into HE learning (Dawson, 2006). They’re worth it! (Approximately 100 per year in HUMSS).

Why focus on mature students? HUMSS Learning and  Teaching Strategy: the  Faculty will ensure all  students receive a  ‘timely, appropriate  and well structured  induction to the  University.’

‘The appointment of LTDOs  and LSOs will help the Faculty  to make sure that students  from non‐traditional  backgrounds are able to take  full advantage of the  educational opportunities  offered by Keele. The Strategic  Plan also states that Faculty  staff will play their part in  supporting widening  participation activities at the  ‘pre‐entry’ stage.’

What do mature students want?

What do mature students want?

What do mature students want? †

22 responses ‘The induction week was very rushed and  intense. We were not shown where  anything was on campus and a work shop  on library and IT facilities would have been  useful.’

What do mature students want? ‘I think that the university could do more.  Induction was very much aimed at the 18 year olds  with little consideration for mature students, and  those who live off campus. Maybe specific  evenings for these students, and sessions on how  to have a work life balance for those who work as  well as attend uni, and for those who have to  juggle childcare commitments.’

What do mature students want? ‘The Uni, as all others I'd imagine, is geared  towards the 18 year olds starting in their 1st  year, which is understandable as most of  the new starters were in this age bracket.  Something geared towards the older  generations would have been  advantageous especially with regards to  meeting people.’

What do mature students want? ‘more information on what level of work is  expected and how to go about it !!!’ ‘More training in accessing library materials,  journals etc. I had lots of students coming  to me and asking how to.’

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21/22 students surveyed would have found  an induction course for mature students  useful, with 19 stating ‘very useful’ All would have found study skills (e.g. essay  writing) sessions useful at the beginning of  the year, with 20/22  selecting ‘very useful’ All would have found confidence‐building  sessions useful with 13/22 indicating that  these would have been ‘very useful’

What did we develop for them?

What did we develop for them?

What did we develop for them?

What did the students do  during the course?

What did the students do during the course? Wednesday 24th September † Lunch/ Meet’n’Greet course expectations learning styles  questionnaire † Treasure Hunt  to introduce  you to your campus † Dinner – Art of Siam Thursday 25th September † Essay writing † Presentation gallery † Lunch † Introduction to CLASS † Dinner and quiz

Friday 26th September † All about exams † Working smarter  † Course expectations &  learning styles revisited † Lunch † Library resources † ICT resources

What did the students  think of the course?

What did the students think of the course? †

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Students very much appreciated the early  opportunity to brush up on study skills, meet  other mature students and get to know the  campus and its services in advance of the start of  the semester.  They felt the course improved their preparedness  for university life and their confidence in  undertaking academic work.  Students felt that HeadStart should run on a  larger scale and be open to all mature students  across the university.

What did the students think of the course? ‘I feel a lot more prepared for the 3+ years  to come and it has put a bit of confidence  that I am able to do the work that is  requested from me.’ ‘I found this course an absolute life saver as  I feel it really boosted my confidence in  starting my first week at university.’

What are we going to do next?

What are we going to do next?

HeadStart on a shoe-string! The same course but: • without paid‐for day and evening meals (just  welcome buffet on first day).  •without the offer of accommodation where  needed (only two students required this last year). •without the offer of childcare (only one student  required this last year).

References Bennett,  R, Mousley, W & Ali‐Choudhury, R (2008) ‘Usefulness  of introductory higher education orientation units in the context  of increasing student diversity.’ International Journal of  Education Management, 22(1) p. 11  Cook, A & Lowe, H (2000), Hitting the Ground Running: The Role  of Induction in Preparing Students for University, University of  Ulster, Belfast. Accessible online at  http://www.ulster.ac.uk/star/resources/hgr.pdf Dawson, C (2006) The Mature Student’s Study Guide: Essential  skills for those returning to education or distance learning (Oxford: How to Books) Shobrook, A.S (2003), The Role of Pre‐entry Practices and  Induction Strategies in Relation to Student Retention: Progress  Project Strategy Guide, University of Hull. Accessible online at  http://www.hull.ac.uk/engprogress/Prog3Papers/Sarah1.pdf

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