Transition pedagogy or panic-gogy: The first year experience of emergency remote teaching



Inclusive Education
Teaching Online
Good Practice

In early December Professor Sally Kift presented a talk at Deakin’s Inclusive Education Community of Practice about the first year experience of emergency remote teaching due to COVID-19. In her talk Professor Kift ranged widely across data, research and good practice frameworks to articulate what we needed most to learn from our experiences in 2020.

Acknowledging the ‘pedagogy of kindness’ that students had acknowledged gratefully in their surveys at Deakin and elsewhere this year, she developed further the theme of fostering strong relationships between students, and between students and staff, as a foundation for learning, mental wellbeing and ongoing connection with university.

She noted the strong 2020 student success and retention figures at Deakin, including for several equity groups, and pointed to our pre-existing foundations for quality online and inclusive education, quoting at length from the Inclusive Education and Division of Student Life (DSL) student support websites, and even our Unit Minimum Standards. She also acknowledged CRADLE’s leading contribution to contemporary assessment research, in particular around online assessment.

She revisited the Transition Pedagogy she pioneered, drawing on recent research and good practice at a range of universities to demonstrate the ongoing usefulness of this framework as a way to organise the multitude of considerations that are necessary to support diverse students into university. These examples showed fresh ways of thinking, such as fostering autonomy through developing assessment literacy, using interactive planners to help students to organise their time, and taking a whole of institution approach to supporting students’ mental health.

She reflected that students commencing university in wholly online mode were coping with an even greater cognitive load:

They are learning content and skills, and they’re learning the platform, and they are learning how to learn online, and how to manage the first year transitions, and for many they are managing their mental wellbeing. Acknowledge the importance of wellbeing, talk about it!

She also noted that students entering university in 2021 ‘could be a fragile, vulnerable cohort who have just got through’, and it will be doubly important to avoid assuming entry knowledge, skills and capabilities:

If anything has become so abundantly clear out of the pandemic for all of us and for the students who are coming in in 2020-21, it is the reality of digital poverty. And that the burden has not fallen equally.

Academic and professional staff should find much in the recording of Professor Kift’s talk to enrich and refresh their thinking as they move through Trimester 3 or into Trimester 1, 2021, about how to teach and support students well online or on campus.

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