#LTHEchat 83: Enhancing First Year Experiences

Join us, Diane Nutt, Ed Foster, and William Carey on the 10th of May at 8pm to discuss ‘Enhancing First Year Experiences’. 

This Twitter chat focuses on some of the ways we might support first year students with their transitions into and through the first year of higher education.

We recognise that there are probably as many first year experiences as there are first years, but we also consider that a successful transition into HE is sometimes challenging and offers all students an accumulation of ‘firsts’, even if these may vary, for example:

first lecture;

first HE assignment;

first time away from home;

first time using a VLE;

first time calling a teacher by their first name;

first seminar;

first independent study time-management challenge;

first encounter with discipline language;

first time finding your way around buildings with no logical room numbering;

first time living on your own in a new town (or country);

first time being taught everything in English;

first time managing a split site learning experience;

first time studying full-time alongside taking care of a family;

first time reading academic articles;

first time writing a lab report;

first time you have ever heard the term semester, or even trimester

Add to this accumulation of first experiences having to learn a new subject from new teachers, with new fellow students and it can all be just too much. Even students who are not tempted to leave may find it difficult to do their best.

How can we help? Most universities provide a range of additional support (welcome week, student services, drop-in library help desks, etc) to help those new to university life, but do we also help in the way we teach and support learning? Is the curriculum designed to support the transition effectively? Are we providing tools and approaches which enable new students to connect with their subject and their new learning journey. Is there more we could do?

This session follows the traditional #LTHEchat pattern of 6 slowly released questions and an open free flowing Twitter discussion. To give you more characters to work with, we suggest using the acronym FYE for First Year Experience/s in your tweets.

The Storify for the chat is available here.

Your team for this week’s chat (in alphabetical order):


William Carey has recently moved to University of Manchester Students’ Union as the Head of Education and Advocacy. Prior to this he was a Teaching and Learning Manager/Advisor for Student Engagement at The University of Manchester – it took a long time to move just over the road! He has taken into his new role a passion for student engagement and peer education, and is learning more about how these areas can inform/be informed by his new role, which also includes campaigning, advice service and democracy. He has supported a number of pilots in student/staff partnerships, most recently with the REACT project and a joint HEFCE/TSEP project incorporating Student Voice into the new APR. As an original member of the European First Year Experience Network (EFYEN) and host of the 2011 conference in Manchester, the first year experience has been an energising thread throughout his career. He is hoping the upcoming Twitter chat will add more fuel to the fire for him and others to continue to build a great first year for all!

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Ed Foster is the Student Engagement Manager at Nottingham Trent University (NTU). He currently leads an Erasmus+ funded research project to investigate strategies for supporting student transition into the first year with KU Leuven and Universiteit Leiden. He is responsible for delivering the NTU Student Dashboard learning analytics resource. Ed is an active member of the European First Year Experience Network and he and his team hosted the conference in 2014. He previously led one of the original “What Works? Student Retention and Success” projects investigating those factors that caused first year students to consider dropping out and those factors that helped them to stay. He previously organised and delivered NTU’s Welcome Week programme for nine years and was responsible for study support at the University. He is also a volunteer cub scout leader on Wednesday evenings. If he goes quiet during the L&Tchat, he’s probably helping some cubs tie a sheet bend.


Diane Nutt is an Independent HE Consultant, which sounds much more pompous than it actually is. She works with institutions and individuals on a variety of issues relating to teaching in universities and to supporting student learning throughout the student journey. She has a particular interest in how you develop staff who teach in HE, and how you help academics teaching students in transition. She is currently working on a SEDA small grant funded project exploring those issues. Before she started out on this exciting independent life she worked at Teesside University, where she set up a Student Retention Team and led a first year and students in transition strategy. She has researched and written about First Year Experience and student transitions. She also set up the European First Year Experience Network and Annual Conference, which has now been running for 11 years. She hopes to see some of you in Birmingham in June this year for that event! She is also on the International Advisory Board for the USA National Resource Center for First Year Experience and Students in Transition.

Finally, it would be wonderful if we could hear the student voice loud and clear this week. Do you have any students who would like to join in the chat? Please let them know about it and how to join in. Would your students be able to send you a short talking head talking about any thoughts, issues, or reflections from their first year experience (30 seconds to 1 minute)? If you have any student video or audio to share, please get in touch and we will tell you where to send them! You can also share a link on Twitter on the day.

Many thanks,

Diane, Ed, Will, Santanu, and Becci

Some links relating to FYE that might be of interest:

European First Year Experience Conference forthcoming in 2017 (Birmingham June 28th-30th) http://www.efye2017.co.uk/

Conference proceedings and some presentations from the EFYE 2014 conference https://www4.ntu.ac.uk/apps/events/9/home.aspx/event/151843/multimedia

Join the EFYEN (European First Year Experience Network) JISC mail list for discussions about all things first year experience EFYEN@jiscmail.ac.uk

USA National Resource Center for First Year Experience and Students in Transition website

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1 Response to #LTHEchat 83: Enhancing First Year Experiences

  1. Pingback: #LTHEchat 84: Student Retention – where do we start? | #LTHEchat

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