The project focuses on the First Year Experience (FYE) of the students as they enter UTS, which includes not only first year subjects, but subjects undertaken by pathway students (Transitional focus). The goal of the project is ensure that the experience of the students entering the undergraduate programs at UTS, is rewarding and positive so that each student has the opportunities to reach their potential both in and outside class, and in their academic development.
The project is funded by Equity and Diversity as part of the Widening Participation Strategy (since 2011), and managed through IML under Assoc Professor Jo McKenzie. Dr Kathy Egea is the FYE Coordinator for the project.
Six interconnected themes have been identified as key elements of this project:
- Being a student and developing a student identity
- A sense of belonging to the university and as part of a group
- Supporting student experience in Curriculum engagement, transition pedagogy and embedded academic learning support in faculties as well as co-curricular support.
- Supporting academics, tutors and demonstrators to support students’ transition
- Navigating the system: supporting students to understand the UTS environment
- Aligned systems, policies and practices to support student success
The FYE Coordinator raises the profile of first year-related issues by developing and supporting a UTS first year community on academic practice. Central to this goal is the coordination of the four main activities below.
These forums discuss and share practice on first year teaching and learning strategies and occur on a regular basis. Anyone who has an interest in First Year, particularly those teaching in this very important area, are welcome to come to these 2 hourly lunch sessions. Invitations to these events are publicised on staff notices. Contact the FYE coordinator, Dr Kathy Egea (Kathy.firstname.lastname@example.org) to be put on the mailing list or to find out more.
Since late 2011, 107 small grants (of up to $4000) have been awarded to academics teaching first year students or students in transition pathway subjects, in some cases in partnership with professional staff. These projects address aspects of Transition Pedagogy (Kift 2009) in curriculum design and classroom practice. Each faculty has had some highly successful outcomes through these grants, including improvements in students' confidence and sense of belonging, student success, retention, and curriculum design innovation.
This group meets semi-regularly to develop and embed FYE policies that support undergraduate students in their first year at UTS.
Membership includes practicing first year coordinators from each of the seven faculties, IML (Learning and Teaching, Academic Language and Literary), and professional staff from several areas including SSU (Helps, U:PASS, Careers), Library, Student Administration and Marketing.
From 2013, the role of FYE Transition coordinator was funded in each faculty at UTS. This person builds and coordinates a first year and transition discussion within the faculty by working with fellow academics and professional staff (e.g. Library, Helps, U:PASS, SRS counselling) in SSU. The Faculty coordinators meet regularly and share their practice and build on relationships and are also part of the UTS Strategy group.