Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Flying into the library: How the library fitted into a student retention project #lilac19

Cheryl Reynolds and Andrew Walsh from university of Huddersfield presented on the “flying start” initiative that supports transition to university. Often induction is a very didactive process, and they wanted to move away from this to a programme that was more inclusive and student centred, that helped students become part of a community at university. The flying start programme was part of a multi institutional programme funded by the UK office for students to promote early engagement and sense of belonging.

Student participated in 9- 5 classes over the first 2 weeks of their course, which could be subject specific, but had similar principles (autonomy, tenacity etc). Many departments were involved including careers, the library, the students union, and development focused on 8 academic departments and impacted on 900 students.  The programme was designed to stimulate excitement about the subject, develop an academic community, to encourage students to work with new people, and build approaches to university level study. The project helped build relationships across the university.

Andrew presented some of the activities that the library facilitated over the 2 week induction period. Students were asked to use Lego to build a library, and then discuss their models, which helped draw out some of the fears students had about using the library.  The challenge cards activity involved students working in groups of 2 or 3 to complete challenges e.g. “find the highest point on campus”. Activities were more about learning about each other and the spaces of the university than “formal” learning. The “Zines” activity involved students designing small informal magazines about the library, and what they thought a library is. The Groundhog Day activity used the actionBound app to develop a treasure hunt using GPS, QR codes and photos to stimulate students to use the library, replicating the kind of information that would normally be delivered at an induction session e.g taking a book out,  finding the opening hours of the library.

It was really important that librarians were involved in the multi professional team who developed the programme as a whole, which ensured that students were introduced to the library as a core part of their course. Students who took part in the programme had more positive perceptions of relationships at the university, and retention was improved.

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