It takes half of College to be ready for College …

A bit of a gap

cc licensed flickr photo by Trodel:

This presentation by Susanne Nobles (via our Canadian correspondent, who sometimes feels like my only source), considers something that came up at the recent away morning to discuss the new Learning and Teaching strategy (venue – the exotic and distant surroundings of the Council Chamber in the Abbey – why is it the only away days / mornings I ever get invited to are just in a different building on the campus !).

In the same discussion group as me, was Rhiannon Hedge, the new SU Education officer. She raised the point that in school, the teachers tell the students that the change from GCSE to A Level is the biggest jump in learning and teaching that they will experience. Going from absolute spoon feeding to having to take (at least some) responsibility for your own progression is certainly a big change and not one that everyone manages as well as they might – I speak from experience.  It turned out OK for me eventually, but it took some time !  However, Rhiannon asserted, that claim is actually rubbish !  The biggest change is that of going from A level study to working at degree level.

Having taught and worked in Further Education for many years myself, before moving to Higher Education, I cannot help but agree with her.  The difference in what is expected of students at HE level compared to FE is enormous.  The type, level and depth of learning and the extent to which they must become autonomous learners.  Big changes … and changes for which not all are equipped.

How much, as an institution, could our first year retention and achievement (a problem with which is one thing we do have in common with FE) be improved if we were only to spend a little time at the start of a degree course working on and looking at degree level study skills and making students fully aware of what was going to expected of them. Preparing them for what is coming …

What do you think ?

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