Students’ experiences of transition to higher education, and between key stages, have a significant impact on student success. Developing a sense of belonging is widely recognised as a key enabler of good transitions. Meaningful engagement, especially in the academic context, is effective in terms of promoting belonging (Thomas, 2012), making local discipline/programme level initiatives particularly important. However, the pivot to largely online delivery in response to COVID-19 has been challenging in terms of social engagement for students, particularly first years. At the time of writing, it is difficult to predict the level of on-campus learning and teaching in autumn 2021, however it seems reasonable to plan for at least some elements of delivery remaining online. Digital literacy is particularly important in this regard. It has been identified as a key enabler of good transitions, while experience over the past year indicates that it is more important than ever.
This initiative will support the development of digital literacy and wellbeing among students through enhancement of the online induction portal. It will support a range of local enhancement projects at School/department/programme level to foster belonging and engagement at key points of transition, particularly the first year and online/blended environments. Specifically, the initiative aims to:
1. Identify ways to foster belonging at key points of transition
2. Enhance the first semester experience for first year students
3. Promote digital literacy, digital citizenship and digital wellbeing