Transitions from school to higher education is the first strand in A New Curriculum for Information Literacy (ANCIL). I remember quite clearly when doing the research with Emma, that time and time again when we spoke to our experts it came up as such a crucial element of information literacy, that we had to include it in our curriculum. In the last few months I am really understanding what supporting students make this transition is all about. It’s been particularly highlighted to me through two recent projects – the first is the Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy project or SADL, where we are working with 20 undergraduate students to understand more about their needs. The second has been a series of workshops for students at City and Islington Sixth Formers that I’ve developed and delivered with my colleague Maria Bell, the Learning Support Services Manager at LSE Library.We had a great write up about this initiative in the CANDI newsletter.
I suspected that students in their firstyear struggle with the transition into higher education, it’s not something that all the orientation and induction programmes we run simply mop up. But what I’m learning is that it’s an ongoing process throughout their time at University. And some are struggling towards the end of their degree – they are struggling with essentially making a shift from a dependent to an independent way of learning. What has struck me through teaching the Sixth formers is that perhaps the transition from A levels to the first year of university is not quite the jump we might expect. Yes, there are issues with spending less time being taught formally and having to manage their workload. But in running some broadly similar workshops with undergraduates and sixth formers I’ve been pretty impressed with the abilities of sixth form students. However, by the time students get to their third year at university I think they are realising they have to up their game. For many of course they may be faced with their first long piece of research, such as a dissertation. But I’ve been finding that our first years are often given extensive reading lists, so finding and evaluating sources is less of a challenge. That said, time management is an important issue and I think first year students need more help in developing their presenting and communicating are skills. We’ve also found during the SADL project that students need support around how much to read, how to read, and how to develop their academic writing and referencing skills. We’ve now completed the workshops for CANDI, but have a few more months with our Ambassadors to find out as much as possible from them. Our workshop resources are all available on the SADL website and we hope to share our resources for sixth formers shortly as open educational resources.