Over the Threshold: formative work in the first days at university

Dr James Gerrard

School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Humanities and Social Sciences

What did you do?

Stage 1 students submit a 400 word piece ‘What will I get from my degree?’ in the second week of Semester 1.

Who is involved?

All Stage 1 Archaeology undergraduate students and all staff members with Stage 1 personal tutees.

How did you do it?

We embedded this short piece of reflective formative work into a compulsory Stage 1 module. The work is submitted as normal, but it is then read by the student’s personal tutor who also provides feedback.

The submitted text is returned to the student in their first one-to-one personal tutor meeting.

Why did you do it?

We wanted to help students transition from FE to HE by giving them something to write early in the Semester. The aim of this was to help first years think about their degree holistically (academic, career and non-academic goals). We also wanted to have an opportunity to introduce students to assessment procedures and referencing, as well as identifying and offering support to students who needed help with academic writing skills.

Finally, we thought it would be great to have something that would help personal tutors start a conversation with their new personal tutees!

Student Voice

Students often say that having to submit this formative piece early familiarised them with the assessment submission process. This made submission of their first summative assessments less stressful.

Does it work?

Students and staff all comment on how this helps at that critical stage in Stage 1 when everything is new and a bit daunting!

Often Stage 3 students look back at this piece of work and marvel at how far they have come!

Contact Details

Dr James Gerrard, Senior Lecturer, School of History, Classics and Archaeology

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