CDU students

First Year Toolkit

A First Year Toolkit for staff is being developed and will provide practical suggestions and examples of effective strategies for teaching, learning and assessment as well as for student engagement, communication, monitoring and support. 

The Toolkit development team consists of:  Barbara White, Brian Phillips, Gretchen Geng, Mary Madden, Leena Panicker, Amander Dimmock and Trevor Billany. 

The guiding framework for the Toolkit is Sally Kift's Transition Pedagogy and how this can be enacted through the curriculum. 

Below are stimulus questions for three of the six curriculum principles within the transition pedagogy to assist you in thinking about teaching and learning strategies.

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multi coloured leaf with the word transition

“The curriculum and its delivery should be designed to be consistent and explicit in assisting students’ transition from their previous educational experience to the nature of learning in higher education and learning in their discipline as part of their lifelong learning” (Kift, 2009).

How might you assist students to understand what it means to be a university student at CDU and a student in your discipline/unit as well as to develop the skills to be successful?

  • How can you assist students to adapt to the language associated with your discipline/unit and with higher education more generally?
  • How might you support students to navigate your Learnline site and understand what is required of them each week and in the teaching and learning activities you have developed?
  • How might you excite your students about your unit/discipline in the first few weeks?  
  • How might you assist students to understand how your unit contributes to their goals or, more generally, the course/profession to which they aspire? 
  • How might you engage students in discussions about expectations and responsibilities of learning (yours and theirs) in your discipline/unit and in higher education more generally?
  • How might you make early contact with students (particularly external students) to ascertain how they are travelling with their transition into your discipline and higher education more generally?

multi coloured picture of a tree with the word diversity

”The first year curriculum should take into account students’ backgrounds, needs, experiences and patterns of study and few if any assumptions should be made about existing skills and knowledge. ‘Diversity’ here can include:

  • membership of at-risk or equity groups
  • widening participation (e.g. non-traditional cohorts)
  • students’ existing skills and knowledge” (Kift, 2009).

How might you provide opportunities to incorporate and leverage students’ different experiences, knowledge and background into learning and teaching activities?

  • How might you find out more about your students and assist them in finding out more about each other in order to develop productive relationships?
  • How might you assist students in learning to work effectively with, and value the diversity of, their peers?
  • How will you assist students to identify the gaps in their knowledge and to fill those gaps efficiently and effectively?
  • How might you cater for the diversity of learning styles and patterns of study of your students?

stones forming an arch with the word engagement

“Learning, teaching, and assessment approaches in the first year curriculum should enact engaging and involving curriculum pedagogy and should enable active and collaborative learning” (Kift, 2009).

How can you encourage students to take an active role in their learning in contrast to being passive absorbers of information?

  • How might you capture students’ attention and enthusiasm at the beginning of a lecture/module/topic?  What strategies might you employ to sustain that attention and enthusiasm?
  • What can you ask students to do that will allow them to make connections between topics/concepts and to understand how individual concepts contribute to the ‘bigger picture’?
  • How might you provide opportunities for students to interact with each other and with you in meaningful ways?
  • What activities might you provide to promote critical thinking and problem solving in order to challenge students as well as to assist them in developing these skills?  
  • How might you continue to provide opportunities for students to understand how your unit is related to the course/profession to which they aspire, and thus, to stay motivated?

For practical strategies around each of the transition pedagogy principles, please visit the CDU staff wiki.

For further information contact:

Barbara White
Associate Dean Learning and Teaching (EHSE)
T: 08 8946 6669
E: barbara.white@cdu.edu.au