Dr Kate Henderson, Transition Officer
School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics
Science, Agriculture and Engineering
What did you do?
Introduced and developed the role of Transition Officer to the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics for Maths and Stats programmes.
Who is involved?
Dr Kate Henderson.
Stage 1 undergraduate students on Maths and Stats programmes.
Stage 1 module leaders on Maths and Stats programmes.
How did you do it?
The main focus of the Transition Officer is to support Stage 1 Maths and Stats students through the transition from A-level mathematics study to studying at degree level in a university environment. This is from both a pastoral and academic perspective. The Transition Officer acts as if they are a teacher that accompanied the student from school to facilitate a smooth transition.
The Transition Officer is responsible for:
- Weekly bulletin email to all stage 1 students to keep them up to date and on track with in-course assessment, revision and any adhoc changes to scheduling. This is done with weekly input from all Stage 1 module leaders.
- Three social events to promote social interaction, particularly for those students who are not inclined to join the existing student societies.
- Lane 7 bowling in Induction Week
- Pop, Pizza and Pub quiz towards the end of Semester 1
- Coffee, Cake and Conversation towards the end of Semester 2
- Weekly drop-in session for academic and pastoral support as needed. This could be for support in filling gaps from A-level, revision for tests, completing assignments, personal problems, logistical problems, IT issues and many, many more.
- Weekly office hours for students to discuss more personal issues one-to-one with the Transition Officer.
- Revision tick sheets to help structure and support revision.
- Targeted support for students who have Student Support Plans from Student Wellbeing when appropriate.
- Review/revise the Induction programme to reduce the overwhelming amount of information delivered in induction week and make information sharing more timely.
- Continually monitor stage 1 students’ engagement with the course (including attendance and achievement in in-course assessment), meet with students to discuss this as appropriate.
- Signposting students to relevant services both within the university (NUSU SAC, Student Wellbeing, Student Finance, Accommodation etc.) and outside the university (Samaritans, NHS, Relate etc) when needed.
- Answering silly questions and providing a tissue and a biscuit in the tough times!
Why did you do it?
The role of Transition Officer was introduced to the School initially in response to increasing cohorts of Stage 1 students putting strain on Stage 1 Module Leaders (due to large class sizes) and the personal tutor team.
A questionnaire was given to students at the end of the first full year that the role had been in place and feedback was positive. 79% of students found the weekly email very useful and 72% of students who replied said they would approach the Transition Officer if they had a problem (compared to 68% who said they would speak to their friends and 54% their family). Students were also asked to comment on things that the Transition Officer had done well in an open answer question (see word cloud for most popular words in their responses).
‘The drop-ins are very good as they allow you to get help and get another perspective than just the one from the usual lecturer. Also they allow for a slower more relaxed area of study but with work actually getting done.’
‘Generally been there to speak to and to provide help with dealing with the course and the workload, lots of emails about the course which have been really useful to remind students about what’s on each week.’
‘Incredibly approachable, and always there to help with anything you need. Goes above and beyond to provide opportunities for students who inquire. The drop-in sessions are incredibly helpful and give a chance to work through problems and also speak with others about anything you may be stuck on. The weekly E-Mails keep you up to date with the week without having to make many notifications. It makes organisation that bit easier. The recently created tick sheet is another thing the transition officer has done well. Having used such items at A-Level I can see that many in the year will benefit from such a tool and I will be using mine to keep on top of work and track progress.’
Students from the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics
Does it work?
The response from students has been very positive, they are particularly keen on the weekly bulletin email with many claiming they “couldn’t have survived stage 1 without it”!
Social events were well attended and by the students they were aimed at (i.e. those less inclined to join existing student societies).
Weekly drop-ins for academic and pastoral support were well attended by a key cohort of students who required additional support, they were either voluntarily attended or suggested to students at review meetings if the pastoral team felt the student would benefit from attending. The drop-ins provide an excellent opportunity for the Transition Officer to catch up with students who have been identified as vulnerable and to monitor their progress.
The Transition Officer has a profound impact on a small number of students who have required immediate or prolonged intervention that would be difficult for a module leader or personal tutor to provide.
The biscuits were unsurprisingly very popular!