Case study example

Below is an example of how the final case study is expected to look. All case study authors will complete the same sections

Name and University
Michelle Morgan, Faculty of Engineering, Kingston University (KU), UK.

Title of project/ initiative
Reorientation and reinduction for all returning students in the Faculty of Engineering.

Who was involved in the initiative?
Faculty Learning and Teaching Coordinator and Student Experience Manager(LTCSE), Faculty Student Support Officer, Heads of Schools, Faculty Placement and Employability Coordinator, Course Module Leaders, Student Office Administrator and the Director of Student Affairs.

Reason for the project/ initiative
The Faculty of Engineering has grown substantially in the past five years. An average Level 1 intake has grown from 80 to over 200 students. Levels two, three and four each have around 300 students per level. Our progression rates are good but engineering is a hard subject so we expect relatively high repeat or resit module rates. From internal research and Faculty student feedback processes, we discovered that many returning students reported feeling lost when they entered a new academic level of study and their stress levels were quite high. Students felt let down because the support they had received in their first level of study in terms of academic support and advice had fallen away when they entered their next level of study. They were expected to ‘just get on with it’. They did not know what support they could get and were worried about asking for help and clarification on many issues because they were returning students. They said that this resulted in them disengaging and the moment that happened, they struggled to cope. We were good at managing the Level one student experience but poor at managing subsequent levels.

Why it was developed?
We wanted to improve the student experience for all returning students whether in our Faculty or those based at Partner Institutions (PIs) by delivering a reorientation session that:

  • Provided targeted support, advice and guidance appropriate for each level of study.
  • Gave students the opportunity to reflect on what they had achieved in their previous level of study.
  • Started the academic skills induction process for their level of study (Reinduction).

Who was the target group
We wanted to provide targeted support to all returning students whether they had successfully progressed, were repeating/resitting, returning after a placement/study aboard session or a long non-academic intermission. This totalled around 800 students across Levels two, three and four. Each academic level had its own reorientation session. At these sessions, information for reinduction support was collected (see ‘what it included’ section below).

Those who were returning after a long non-academic intermission were required to attend a separate orientation programme with direct entry/transfer students first (see Case Study 9). The first year of implementation concentrated on students returning to KU and not PIs.

How it was developed, what it included and how it was implemented

How it was developed
The L&T Coordinator developed a draft reorientation programme for which was agreed by academic and support colleagues at the end of year Faculty of Engineering Away Day.

What it included
Reorientation session
The aims and objectives of the session was to let students know about:

  • What to expect in their new level of academic study?
  • The academic differences between the level they had just left and the level they were entering.
  • The academic rules for their new level of study.
  • Things to think about in their new level of study and what skills to build on.

We delivered these aims and objectives and a range of information through the various speakers listed below:

  • Welcome back by the Head of School – Returning students were congratulated on their success for progressing onto the next level. They were encouraged to keep up the hard work and ask for help if they needed it. This was an important message for a male dominated student body who often do not like asking for help.
  • What to expect in this academic level by the L&T Coordinator -Academic expectations and the differences between the previous level and new level of academic study were explained.
  • Academic rules and regulations by the Head of School – Students were reminded and guided through the rules and regulations for their new level of study.
  • Accessing support in the Faculty by the Student Support Officer – A reminder of the Faculty support available was provided.
  • Accessing central service support by the Director of Student Support – Information about central services appropriate for returners such as Health and Counselling, Dyslexia Support, Finance Advice and Student Union support was provided.
  • Personal Development Planning (PDP) by the L&T Coordinator – Students were reminded about the importance of reflection and personal development and given advice on how they could engage in this activity.
  • Placements and Careers by the Employability Coordinator – Information on the benefits of undertaking placements and study abroad opportunities were covered for level two students and advice was provided on how to access career support and advice.
  • Reflection on previous year and extra support for 2009 survey. This activity required returning students to think about what they achieved in their previous level and to identify what extra academic help and support they felt they may need in the coming year. These extra activities would be delivered over the coming months as reinduction activities. The survey also asked for feedback about the reorientation session.

Returning students were given detailed information in a Reorientation Handbook produced by the LTCSE. It contained practical advice and up to date contact numbers. A hard copy handbook was provided as well as an electronic version on Study Space (BlackBoard) because students had stated that they preferred to have a hard copy handbook for reference.

How it was implemented
Returning students start their teaching timetable as soon as they come back at the start of the academic year unlike new students who spend their first week undertaking orientation activities. Colleagues who ran core modules were asked to give up their first teaching slot for the reorientation session. A number of modules had to be identified to ensure all students were accessed.

Analysis and feedback
The reflection surveys were analysed and the results published for students to see. Many of the extra support activities students asked for related to extra study skill and career oriented sessions. As engineering students timetables are so full, extra activities could not be fitted into their timetable. However, extra support was delivered on an extra curricula basis throughout the academic year.

The cost and timeline
It was developed quite quickly but thought; knowledge, experience, consideration and consultation had taken place. Internal research had informed the activity. Colleagues who participated undertook the activity as part of their remit. The photocopied Reorientation handbooks that were provided to all returners cost around £500.

How it is/was monitored
Feedback on the initiative was provided by course representatives via various Faculty Committees and attendance at extra curricula activities were monitored. The cohort pass rate per level has improved.

The outcome
It is now part of the Faculty’s diet of activities delivered at the start of the new academic year.

Has or could the initiative be used for a different group of students?
This initiative is being adapted for our partner institutions. It could be adapted for work-based or distance learners and delivered via email or a Virtual Learning Environment.

Advice and guidance

  • Get colleagues on board;
  • Listen to your returning students issues and concerns;
  • Be positive when describing what to expect in the new academic level of study to students;
  • Make all your information explicit and clear. Don’t always rely on electronic forms of distributing information;

Feedback your findings to your students on the reflection survey.