Wrap up of the Focus on First Year Teaching forum


March, 2021

Good Practice

The First Year Taskforce and First Year Communities of practice from each of the faculties came together on 23 February for the first of three whole of Deakin forums on first year teaching for 2021.

The focus for the session was the importance of building learning communities, and of creating the opportunity for ‘relationship rich’ learning whether students are online or on campus.

The forum picked up on feedback from students during 2020 that highlighted how much they missed the opportunity for building relationships with other students and with their lecturers while studying during lockdown. Some of the 102 staff attending used Padlet to share the innovative ways in which they were encouraging and supporting their students to engage and get to know each other. Suggestions included hosting weekly social drop in zoom catch ups, always responding positively to any discussion board posts and kicking off each seminar with a visual ‘vibe check’.

Those attending the forum were also given a comprehensive run down on how Orientation and DUSA’s program of events in 2021 will not only provide students with essential information when starting their studies, but will also offer a varied range of activities designed to both welcome and engage our new and returning students on campus.

Finally, participants were given a preview of the Practical Guide to First Year Teaching, a SharePoint site designed by the First Year Taskforce with assistance from Deakin Learning Futures, specifically to support those teaching level 1 units. The site offers practical suggestions with direct links to resources that teaching teams may find helpful in the early, middle and final weeks of trimester. The site is built around four key elements of first year teaching that research in the field suggests are critical to student success: reducing the cognitive load, making expectations explicit, developing academic literacies and building learning communities.

These key elements of first year teaching will be picked up throughout the year in First Year Community of Practice discussions and in further First Year Forums planned for later in the year.

If you are interested in taking part in these forums, please contact your faculty representative: SEBE- Janine McBurnie, Health- Lynn Riddell, Business and Law – Wendy Webber and Arts and Education – Petra Brown.

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